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Category: Finding Deductions

What Gifts and Donations to Charity can I Deduct?

The IRS allows certain deductions for charity donations made by you throughout the tax year.  The IRS allows you to deduct contributions or gifts you gave to organizations that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose.  You can also deduct what you gave to organizations that work to prevent child cruelty as well animal cruelty.

Cash contributions (such as tithes or donations)

You can deduct any contributions in cash or by check that you made to qualifying charitable organizations. Common examples include:

  • Tithes and offerings to your church
  • Cash or check donations to organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girl Scouts, Red Cross, United Way, etc.
  • Cash or check donations to government agencies if the gifts are solely for public purposes
  • Cash or check donations to veterans' and certain cultural groups             

Mileage contributions (such as driving to and from volunteer work)

If you did any volunteer work for a qualifying organization, you may have used your personal vehicle to get to and from the place where you were volunteering. If so, you can use those miles as an additional deduction, as long as you were not reimbursed for using your vehicle (such as a gas allowance). 

Noncash Donations (such as donations of clothing, furniture, etc.)

If you donated property to a qualifying organization, you can generally deduct the fair market value of the property at the time it was donated. If you are deducting noncash donations on your return, the IRS requires different amounts of information based on the overall total of your deduction. The bigger your deduction, the more detailed information you must provide. 

Any Charitable Donations Carryovers

If you have deducted contributions to charity (whether cash, mileage, or property) on previous returns, your deduction may have been limited. This would only happen if the amount of your donation was significantly large when compared to your Adjusted Gross Income. This is not common for most taxpayers. As a result, you can carry over these contributions that you are not able to deduct in the current year. You can deduct the excess in each of the next 5 years until it is used up.

For additional information about Charitable Contributions, please see IRS Publication 526.