You can 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 organization stat work to prevent cruelty to animals or children. . See Pub. 526 for details.
To verify an organization's charitable status, you can:
- Check with the organization to which you made the donation. The organization should be able to provide you with verification of its charitable status.
- See Pub. 78 for a list of most qualified organizations.
- Call Tax Exempt/Government Entities Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500.
Examples of Qualified Charitable Organizations:
- Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, etc.
- Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, CARE, Girl Scouts, Goodwill Industries, Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way, etc.
- Fraternal orders, if the gifts will be used for the purposes listed above
- Veterans' and certain cultural groups
- Nonprofit schools, hospitals, and organizations whose purpose is to find a cure for, or help people who have, arthritis, asthma, birth defects, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, heart disease, hemophilia, mental illness or retardation, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, tuberculosis, etc.
- Federal, state, and local governments if the gifts are solely for public purposes.
Contributions You Can Deduct
Contributions can be in cash, property, or out-of-pocket expenses you paid to do volunteer work for the kinds of organizations described earlier. If you drove to and from volunteer work, you can take teh actual cost of gas and oit or 14 cents a mile. But if the volunteer work was to provide relief related to a Midwestern disaster area, the amount is 36 cents a mile (41 cents a mile after June 30, 2008), see Pub. 4492-B for more information. Add parking and tolls to the amount you claim under either method. But do not deduct any amounts that were repaid to you.
Gifts From Which You Benefit
If you made a gift and received a benefit in return, such as food, entertainment, or merchandise, you can generally only deduct the amount that is more than the value of the benefit. But this rule does not apply to certain membership benefits provided in return for an annual payment of $75 or less or to certain items or benefts of token value. For details, see Pub. 526.
Example: You paid $70 to a chairitable organization to attend a fund-raising dinner and the value of the dinner was $40. You can deduct only $30.
Gifts of $250 or More:
You can deduct a gift of $250 or more only if you have a statement from the charitable organization showing the information listed:
- The amount of any money contributed and a description (but not value) of any property donated.
- Whether the organization did or did not give you any goods or services in return for your contribution. If you did receive any goods or services, a description and estimate of he value must be included. If you received only intangible religious benefits (such as admission to a religious ceremony), the organization must state this, but it does not have to describe or value the benefit.
In figuring whether a gift is $250 or more, do not combiine separate donations. For example, if you gave your church $25 each week for a total of $1,300, treat each $25 payment as a separate gift. If you made payments through payroll deductions, treat each deduction from each paycheck as a separate gift.
Limit on the amount you can deduct: See Pub. 526 to figure the amount of your deduction if any of the following applies.
1. Your cash contributions or contributions of ordinary income property are more than 30% of the amount on Form 1040, line 38.
2. Your gifts of capital gain property are more than 20% of the amount on Form 1040, line 38.
3. You gave gifts of property that increased in value or gave gifts of the use of property.