From the Desk of Michael T. McCormick
Six Facts You Should Know Before Deducting a Charitable Donation
The deduction for charitable donations can be a great way to do good but get a tax break too! If you gave money or goods to a charity in 2015, you may be able to claim a deduction on your federal tax return. Here are six important facts you should know about charitable donations.
1. Qualified Charities. You must donate to a qualified charity. Gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates are not deductible. An exception to this rule is contributions under the Slain Officer Family Support Act of 2015. To check the status of a charity, contact our office for verification.
2. Itemize Deductions. To deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions.
3. Benefit in Return. If you get something in return for your donation, you may have to reduce your deduction. You can only deduct the amount of your gift that is more than the value of what you got in return. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services.
4. Type of Donation. If you give property instead of cash, your deduction amount is normally limited to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market. If you donate used clothing and household items, they generally must be in good condition, or better, to be deductible. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.
5. Form to File and Records to Keep. For all noncash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year additional forms are required to identify and disclose the value of your donations. The type of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. It is important to accurately value your doantions.
6. Donations of $250 or More. If you donated cash or goods of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether you received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.