- This topic has 3 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 8 years, 1 month ago by Doofrat.
April 21, 2015 at 11:56 PM #21487April 22, 2015 at 12:29 AM #785121NotCrankyParticipant
That’s a tough question. I can’t answer it but just wonder if you are aware that you might be able claim a certain amount of charitable deduction without having any proof of it? I am not sure what it is now, remember it being around $500 a few years ago. If you don’t think you are going to have a large deduction maybe you can follow-up on this to see if it works for you? Otherwise , let’s hope someone here has your answer.April 22, 2015 at 5:03 AM #785129flyerParticipant
FYI, the answers to many of your questions are available by doing a Google search, but, as a start, here’s some info (below) from NOLO–generally a good source for this type of information.
I hope this is helpful, but please do not consider this advice, and you may want to contact a tax professional.
Tax Deductions for Charitable Contributions
You can deduct charitable contributions from your taxable income–if you follow IRS rules.
When you make a charitable contribution, you benefit both the charity and your own tax situation, because you can deduct the amount of these gifts from your taxable income if you itemize your deductions. However, the IRS has lots of rules about how you must report and document all your charitable deductions. If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t get the deduction.
Claiming a charitable deduction is simple when you write a check to a charity or make an online donation with your credit card.
For a cash gift of any amount, you need a receipt (showing the date and amount of your donation) OR a bank or credit card statement, payroll deduction record, cancelled check, or other bank record showing the transaction. Email communications are generally acceptable. If you donate through a text message, the IRS will accept the phone bill as verification if it shows the recipient organization, the amount, and the date given.
If you want to claim a deduction for a cash gift of $250 or more, you must have a written receipt, describing the gift, from the charity. To determine whether or not this requirement applies to you, you do not have to add up all your donations to a particular charity. For example, if you give the local food bank $50 every month, each contribution is separate, and the receipt rule does not apply.
The receipt should also state whether or not the charity gave you any goods or services in exchange for your gift; if so, the receipt must describe them and give an estimate of their value. The charity doesn’t have to report a low-cost item it gives to you as a token of thanks—for example, a plastic water bottle or coffee mug with the charity’s name on it. You must get the receipt by the time you file your tax return.
Making “noncash contributions”—in other words, donating clothing, books, cars, or other items—requires more documentation and sometimes a special IRS form. It all depends on the value of your gifts.
To figure out the value of your gifts, add all the value of all similar items. For example, if you give away a hundred valuable old books, add their value together even though you might think you’re really making a lot of small gifts. The rule applies even if you give the items to different charities.
Gifts of Less Than $250
To deduct a noncash donation worth less than $250, you need a receipt with:
the charitable organization’s name
the date and location of the contribution, and
a description of the property (in just enough detail to identify the items).
Clothing and Household Items. Most of us, from time to time, pass on clothing, furniture, appliances, and similar household items to charities, hoping others can use them. A tax deduction isn’t the main goal, but you can claim a deduction for these items, just like more valuable ones. The items must, however, be in good condition; you don’t get a deduction for giving a charity items that really should be thrown out. You can get values for commonly donated items from various commercial software programs or at the Salvation Army’s online Valuation Guide.
Gifts of More Than $250
If you want to claim a deduction for a gift worth $250 or more, get a written receipt from the charity that describes the gift. The receipt should state whether or not any goods or services were given to you in exchange for your gift; if they were, the receipt must describe them and give an estimate of their value. The charity doesn’t have to report a low-cost item it gives to you as a token of thanks—for example, a plastic water bottle or coffee mug with the charity’s name on it.
Gifts of More Than $500
If you make a total of more than $500 worth of noncash gifts in a calendar year, you must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, with your income tax return.
You have to fill out only Section A of the form if:
the gifts are worth less than $5,000, or
you’re giving publicly traded securities (even if they’re worth more than $5,000).
Special Rules for Donating Vehicles
Many charities actively solicit the donation of used cars and other vehicles. To claim a deduction of $500 or more for a vehicle you donate, you of course need a written receipt from the charity, issued at the time you make the gift or shortly thereafter.
How large a donation you can claim depends on what the charity does with the vehicle. If it promptly sells the car without using it or substantially fixing it up, you can deduct the amount the charity receives for the car or its fair market value when you donated it, whichever is less. If the charity does use or improve the car (or gives it away as part of its charitable activities), you can deduct the fair market value at the time of the contribution. The charity typically provides this information on IRS Form 1098-C, Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats and Airplanes.April 22, 2015 at 10:33 AM #785141DoofratParticipant
You can claim anything up to $500 without any receipt or any proof whatsoever, just say I donated $500 worth of clothes each year and nobody will ever ask you anything.
You should always get a receipt and you should have at least a basic itemization. You never know what all you will donate later in the year and you’ll kick yourself later if you go over this $500 amount.
If you are donating 6 bags of clothes, you should have a basic list of everything: eg.
2 hoodies – Old Navy
1 Leather Jacket Wilsons Leather
10 pairs jeans – good shape
8 Womens blouses – good shape
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to itemize bags of clothes.
For more expensive items like an air conditioning unit or a coffee table, especially items that are in excellent shape, take a picture to prove it is in excellent shape.
Always imagine that you are sitting in the audit office and you have to prove your case.
If you donate over $500 in one day, you may have to set a cost basis on the items. Generally the cost basis can just be set to the donation price or higher and you’ll be fine. They’re just making sure you didn’t buy a $5000 car for $5 and you are trying to game the system.
IMHO – Unless you really stretch it, you are not likely to be audited on your charitable donations. Anything within reason will not attract suspicion. And if you have an itemization, you’ll protect yourself.
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