This article was last edited in December, 2016. For updated information about charitable donations and your taxes, read What to Know About the Charitable Gift Deduction After Tax Reform.
The new year is less than a month away. Which means, time is running out to increase your 2016 tax refund with a tax-deductible charitable donation. Don’t rush out the door just yet. You don’t want to donate to just anybody. There are some key things that you should know and consider before making your donation.
The first thing to remember is that donations must be made to a qualifying organization before the first day of January. Not every group is legit, nor do they qualify as tax-exempt. Most charitable trusts, funds and foundations, war veterans’ groups, churches and other religious organizations and nonprofit educational entities qualify. You can do a little research on your own by visiting the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check.
Secondly, determine what items are donation worthy by reviewing the organization’s webpage or requesting a wish list. This will help you determine if it would be more appropriate to purchase new things to give or if your gently used items would be acceptable and useful. Keep in mind that you are not the only one making a last minute dash to donate to charity. Therefore, expect long lines for drop-off and the possibility of having to deliver items yourself if you want to meet the deadline.
Lastly, don’t forget to get a receipt for your tax write-off. You will need this to get credit for the donation. Be sure that it states the name and address of the organization and the date and amount of the contribution.
The holidays are a great time to clean closets, garages and rooms. While you are off work and the children out of school, take an hour or two to collect unneeded items that could give someone a hand up and put a smile on a child’s face.
When it comes to giving, don’t just make a donation, make it count for you and the organization.