IRS Offers Tips for Year-End Giving

IRS Offers Tips for Year-End Giving

IRS Videos:   Exempt Organizations Select Check:  English | Spanish

                        Fair Market Value of Charitable Donations:  English | Spanish | ASL

Podcasts:       Exempt Organizations Select Check: English | Spanish

Individuals and businesses making contributions to charity should keep in mind some key tax provisions that have taken effect in recent years, especially those affecting donations of clothing and household items and monetary donations.

Rules for Clothing and Household Items

To be deductible, clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return. Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens.

Guidelines for Monetary Donations

To deduct any charitable donation of money, regardless of amount, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, bank or credit union statements, and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.

Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.


To help taxpayers plan their holiday-season and year-end giving, the IRS offers the following additional reminders:

  • Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2012 count for 2012. This is true even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2013. Also, checks count for 2012 as long as they are mailed in 2012.
  • Check that the organization is qualified. Only donations to qualified organizations are tax-deductible. Exempt Organization Select Check, a searchable online database available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are qualified to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations, even if they are not listed in the database.
  • For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2012 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
  • For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
  • The deduction for a motor vehicle, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C, or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.
  • If the amount of a taxpayer’s deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.
  • And, as always it’s important to keep good records and receipts.

IRS.gov has Additional information on charitable giving including:

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

frank rizzo December 30, 2012 at 04:51 AM
eyeballs sounds like the typical hayseed stuck in front of the tv watching sean hannity. newsflash eyeballs clinton wasnt a commie but he did have the most successful economy since world war 2 as well as creating more non govt jobs than reagan, daddy bush and bush jr combined . he taxed the rich an extra 3% . bush jr did away with that and in a few years we ended up giving wall st trillions for their incompetence. but no john q public has a much better answer by taxing the hell out of that kid working in mc donalds. no wonder we are doomed.
Eyeballs December 30, 2012 at 07:11 AM
Explaining economics to someone whose mind is so undeveloped would be impossible. The economy was good under Clinton despite his policies and would have done even better without them - and it goes back to Reagan, whether you like it or not. I understand Joe R is looking for more speakers at the next Communist Party Meeting. I'll tell him to sign you up, Comrad!
frank rizzo December 30, 2012 at 08:14 AM
yeah reagan. a president who raised the debt ceiling 18 times , gave weapons to the taliban to fight russians and gave 4 million illegals amnesty without any criminal check. if reagan were alive today republicans would call him comrade too. only someone like eyeballs could give us a gem like " yeah clinton's policies were good but they would have been better without him" . eyeballs you should check i think theres a carbon monoxide leak in your living room.
frank rizzo December 30, 2012 at 08:18 AM
gary junston oil is safe? you must have missed the news about that trouble in the gulf 2 yrs ago. i heard there was some kind of spill. THAT WENT ON 4 MONTHS. you didnt build that was an accurate statement. those corporations didnt build the roads and bridges that allowed their trucks to deliver their goods. wake up already.
frank rizzo December 30, 2012 at 08:20 AM
obama wanted to rebuild the 77,000 crumbling roads and bridges in this country and eyeballs and gary called him a socialist. funny how they never said a peep when george bush built roads and bridges in iraq for a trillion bucks. hey at least they have a starbucks in bagdad now.
Dentss Dunnagun December 30, 2012 at 09:53 AM
America is rapidly becoming a nation of takers. An increasing number of Americans expect the government to take care of them from the cradle to the grave, and they expect the government to dig into the pockets of others in order to pay for it all. In one state there are 139 "takers" for every 100 private sector workers. The American people have become absolutely addicted to government money, and it gets worse with each passing year. It would be one thing if we could afford all of this spending, but unfortunately we simply cannot. We are drowning in debt, and we are stealing more than a hundred million more dollars from future generations with each passing hour. No bank robber in history can match that kind of theft There is no way in the world that we could raise taxes high enough to pay for all of the obligations that we are currently taking on. They say that even if we taxed all corporations and all individuals at a 100% tax rate on all income over $66,193, it wouldn't be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities....this is going to end very badly for us and especially our kids
Wilson B Goode December 30, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Bill Clinton increased the national debt by 40 percent during his 8 years. He also brought us the dot.com bubble which was largely responsible for the economy's success. Those evil corporations did so well Joe r that the stock market grew making lots of people money. If the evil corporations didn't do so well how would stocks perform? Btw. Evil corporations invest in and buy goods from other evil corporations which allow everyone to have jobs. They also pay dividends which are taxed a 2nd time upon receipt. They also have shareholders who want a return on capital or why invest, without investment there are no businesses. Rizzo. If obummy wants to fix roads and bridges where is the proposal for a bill? Look at how fast other junk gets passed. Btw how are we gonna pay for roads and bridges when we have a trillion dollar budget hole and 20 trillion in debt? Steal it from Medicare like Obamacare?
clamdigger December 30, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Clinton just happened be in office during one of the country's most important periods in history, the technology age of the computer, the dot.com era and boost of all the new companies that were born and launched along with the record climb of Wall St. because of everyone investing and trading in this new era.
Joe R December 30, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Check, got it. Eyeballs and Gary love pollution, want more pollution, want the air, water and soil tainted beyond hope, beyond repair. They think that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are commie plots and must be eliminated. These two yahoos have no one, no relatives on any of those programs so they do not care. They are against public schools or any schools getting public money because you know, that's socialism. All schools should be private and if you can't afford schooling then tough luck. Police should be privatized because we can't have those socialized police. No more funding for roads because what we have now is socialism for roads. That is, public money is confiscated to build roads in other states, that's socialism. The list goes on.
Joe R December 30, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The army is socialism on steroids, the VA is socialized medicine. The two Neanderthals would eliminate the VA or privatize it and thus many veterans would not get any medical care unless they could afford it. The GI Bill is socialism, according to the standards of these two yahoos. Eyeballs is busy ironing his blood splattered white sheets.
Joe R December 30, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I notice you didn't mention Germany, all the Scandinavian countries, Canada (which has had no bank failures), Switzerland and Austria whose economies are doing well and they have all the same social programs as France and guaranteed month off vacations (except Canada). Germany's unemployment rate is lower than ours. AND their unionization rates are much higher than ours. University education is virtually free in the above countries (excepting Canada) and they all have universal health care. I get it, you guys don't believe in publically funded police forces, schools, roads or infrastructure because that would be SOCIALISM!!!!!!! Even volunteer fire departments need public money, taxes to pay for the fire engines, fire houses, insurances for the latter, all the equipment and the whole infrastructure for fire hydrants. I guess we should have bake sales and fund raisers for the police, fire departments, army, navy and airforce. Sure, that will work, in some alternate right wing universe 60 million light years from earth.
Joe R December 30, 2012 at 05:25 PM
So we let the roads and bridges go to hell? You will be the first one screaming if a bridge collapses, especially a bridge for railroad tanker cars full of toxic chemicals. You will be the first one screaming if you lose a wheel in a pot hole. The right wing solution is to cut the top marginal tax rate from 35% to 25%, even less revenue and trickle down hasn't ever worked, the Bush era proves that. The only president to cut taxes in a time of war. Bush put everything on the credit card.
John Q. Public December 30, 2012 at 05:40 PM
The taxpayers, the top 5%, built those road, and bridges, so they could deliver their goods. Their taxes financed it, and their companies did the work. The government devours the wealth of the people, consuming much and redistributing the rest, but they produce nothing.
John Q. Public December 30, 2012 at 05:47 PM
It's win/win. I like you paying more taxes too.
John Q. Public December 30, 2012 at 05:55 PM
It's ironc, Joe R, but collectively, middle income conservatives voluntarily contribute far more $$$ than all liberals, including the wealthy. One of those inexplicable facts of life, that when it comes to voluntary giving, conservatives are the poor's best friend.
John Q. Public December 30, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Frank, you must have been out of the country. GWB was severely criticized by conservatives for spending in Iraq, and elsewhere. Despite his vast increases in domestic, safety-net spending, he was blasted as heartless by liberals, and a big-spender by his base. Bad move for GWB, as he lost that base, and the opposition is, well, the opposition, despite his dancing to their music. There's a lesson to be learned by all conservatives: you can't appease the left, as their needs are infinite and their memory short.
Wilson B Goode December 30, 2012 at 07:17 PM
How come John Kerry owns muni bonds and doesnt pay his fair share of taxes? He also owns stock in wall street and invests in Bain capital. Let's give him the same treatment we gave mittens. Look at his investments. What a crook http://pfds.opensecrets.org/N00000245_2010.pdf
Eyeballs December 30, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Reading your posts is cute, kind of like when a 5 year old begins to state opinions, no matter how ridiculous they are. I've never seen anyone post so much with such little knowledge about anything. Most socialists and communists are either really young and immature with little life experience and there's the really sad type of people like you. But I don't blame you - you need to live off the more productive in society, given your limitations.
kevin December 30, 2012 at 08:12 PM
He uses words like excoriate and espouse, but he can't spell 'sheer', 'you're' or 'penalize'. He also seems to be unfamiliar with the concept of a comma. Sounds like ol' Joe Sommers is here to give us all some of that homemade conservative wisdom! Why don't you try learning the basics of communication before you try to tackle the big stuff, like thinking.
Donald December 31, 2012 at 02:31 PM
As tempting as it is to correct another poster's spelling, grammar or word usage, I don't believe it should be employed as a rhetorical device in place of reasoned argument. Few of us -- myself included -- are always letter-perfect. For example, Kevin apparently failed to appreciate that Mr. Sommers used the wrong case of "who" in the preantepenultimate line of his comment. It should not have been "whom," since the word was used in the nominative case -- as the subject of a dependent clause -- calling for "who." Furthermore, although Kevin attacks the use -- or lack -- of commas by Mr. Sommers, Kevin misplaces them. In this country, commas and periods are virtually always placed inside quotation marks, not outside, as Kevin incorrectly placed them. (Of course, I am assuming Kevin is not posting from his country estate in the Cotswolds.)
Joe Taxpayer December 31, 2012 at 03:06 PM
@Joe R of course we should fix them so where is the proposal from BO and congress to do so? He's been POTUS for 4 years. Point me in the direction of a bill pending to fix them. And where will the funds come from since we don't have any money to spend? You veer off course and attack tax rates but you neglect to mention that individual inc taxes paid after Bush cuts hit a record high in 2007 when we also had 4.5% unemployment. If Bush put everything on a credit card, then Obama must be using one card to pay off each other card that is tapped out. Since BO was sworn in he added $6 trillion to the debt. It's a shame that the facts don't lie but feel free to make excuses, duck the real problem which is spending and make up stories. Go ahead and raise the rates on the rich. The $80B a year will pay for a week's worth of Obama spending and still won't fix any roads or bridges or create any jobs. Then what will you use as an excuse for failure? If we borrow to pay for government but won't cut government spending, then what? In 2008, Obama said the debt was irresponsible and unpatriotic when everyone owed $30k each. now we all owe over $50k each. Is it still irresponsible and unpatriotic? FACT - when you hit the debt ceiling, it means you have maxed out your borrowing capacity and have not paid back the principal. Who thinks the solution to this is to borrow more money?
John Q. Public January 02, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Ah, yes, Envy. That great human failing so skilfully manipulated by BHO to string many disparate groups into a successful, winning coalition. All made possible by a complicit, swooning media, who ignored all bad reports and exaggerated the good. We depend on the IRS to punish the successful, but taking them down a notch or two, confiscating their hard-earned income in the interest of 'fairness.'
Bill January 02, 2013 at 03:47 PM
JoeR - before you get all giddy over the fantastic life in Europe, maybe you should look into the cost of all the "free" services. I do love when liberals refer to tax payer funded services as free. Since Germany has probably one of the strongest economies at the moment in the EU. http://www.parmentier.de/steuer/steuer.htm?wagetax.htm If it doesn't automatically put in the numbers I did, here they are. Cat IV ( married with equal incomes. 2 kids Gross yearly salary =120000 euro ( equal to $160000 US) Total taxes( Income & Social Security) paid = 52,528.50 euro ( $69,590.00 US) 43% And then deduct another 19.5% VAT (common to all EU countries) for everything they purchase with that net after tax income. Do you pay 43% in total federal income taxes ?
Joe R January 02, 2013 at 06:11 PM
@mtwnres: Yes, their taxes are high but they get significant value for their money, so in the final analysis, they come out ahead. They have universal health care, which is free (some very minor fees in some cases) at the point of service. How many Americans are burdened with huge premiums (that amounts to a big tax) that skyrocket every year and many Americans go bankrupt from medical expenses every year (that amounts to a huge tax). No one goes bankrupt from medical expenses in Germany or Canada or Australia or FRance or Norway or Denmark. University education in Germany is virtually free or very inexpensive. US kids are burdened with confiscatory tuitions (that amounts to a huge tax) and further burdened with student loan debts for years (that amounts to a huge tax). Medicines are significantly cheaper in Germany, unlike America where the exact same medicines can be twice or three times as expensive (another huge "TAX") for Americans. They get many other services that we can only dream about. They have a very good public transportaion infrastructue and system so that many folks don't even need to own cars or can use their cars less. I'm sure you won't get the point I'm trying to make because I didn't supply illustrations and video clips.
Fae Danner January 02, 2013 at 10:02 PM
As I read all of these blogs, including my own, I am reminded of two things: #1. It's great to vent, although a modicum of kindness and acceptance for the thoughts and expressions of others are always a welcome method of having a meaningful discussion. #2. Regardless of our perspective on any issue, we are powerless; and the more distracted we become by in-fighting, the fewer battles we have any hope of resolving. Honestly, I think the war is over and none of us has won. Division was the goal and it has succeeded ... and continues. I'm older, wiser, and sad!
Joe R January 02, 2013 at 11:23 PM
It just amazes me that we don't think twice about being taxed for something like public roads and the infrastructure. We pool all our tax money for a greater good and everyone benefits from having safe drivable roads. Some part of my federal taxes go for roads in other states via the interstate highway system and vice-versa for the residents in those states chipping in for roads that cross through NJ. But if we would do the same for health care, that's socialism, that's horrible, blah, blah, blah. I guess they also think that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the VA (it is an example of the "S" word) are all socialism and so should be demolished.
Bill January 02, 2013 at 11:34 PM
@JoeR - They come out for ahead in your opinion. Essentially, you want the government to play nanny for you. Americans going bankrupt from medical is nothing more then BS propoganda. Has been debunked time and again. Why do people like yoiu insist on saying something is free? Do the doctors work for no pay in Europe ? How about the college professors ? Did I miss that in the news reports ? And yes, many countries now charge a small premium in addition to the taxes collected to cover that "free" healthcare. Germany charges 8% of wages. What services do they get that I could only dream about ? Please enlighten me ? PS - I work with Europeans, I've worked there, and I have family that still lives there. So spare me the BS remarks about where I get my info.
Bill January 02, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Because many of us believe the less the government is involved in the better our lives will be. I'm pretty sure there were some really smart men that thought that way a few hundred years ago. But I could be wrong.
stephen January 03, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Very useful information. Thanks for the tips. These should stay up on Patch in a visible spot until Tax Day.
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