General information about tax-deductible donations.
IRS Tips for Year-End Donations
To deduct any charitable donation of money, 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. A bank record includes canceled checks, bank or credit union statements and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity and the date and amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity 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, 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.
Prior law allowed taxpayers to back up their donations of money with personal bank registers, diaries or notes made around the time of the donation. Those types of records are no longer sufficient.
This provision applies to contributions made in taxable years beginning after Aug. 17, 2006. For taxpayers that file returns on a calendar-year basis, including most individuals, the new provision applies to contributions made beginning in 2007.
The new law does not change the prior-law requirement that a taxpayer get an acknowledgement 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 the requirements of both provisions.
To help taxpayers plan their holiday-season and year-end donations, 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 the year count for 2006. This is true even if the credit-card bill isn’t paid until next year. Also, checks count for 2006 as long as they are mailed this year.
- For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Schedule A can claim a deduction for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to people who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short 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.) exceeds the standard deduction. Use the 2006 Schedule A, available now on IRS.gov, to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
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