8 Things You Should Know About Deducting Gifts to Charity
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- 1% is the percentage of spending America’s worst charity devoted to its advertised mission — in serving those it said it helped — according to the Tampa Bay Times list of America’s Worst Charities.
- Our charity screening test tells you not to donate to any charity that spends less than 50% on its mission’s programs. See episode #21 on how to figure a charity program spending percentage in 3 minutes.
- In creating its list of 50 worst charities, the Tampa Bay Times focused on charities that rely heavily on outside commercial fundraisers.
- The Tampa Bay Times list presents a sad list of charities that seem intent not on helping those in need, but on supporting commercial fundraisers.
- Generous people across the U.S. have given these 50 charities more than $1 billion over recent years.
- Moral of the story: Dig before you donate!
- Find out who you are dealing with.
- Find out how they spend their money.
- I can’t image that any serious donor who looked at the spending of any one of these 50 charities would have given them a nickel. But they’ve raised more than $1 billion. Donors — we have to protect ourselves.
- CharityCheck101.org is a great place to start your digging. You can find the identity, tax status and EIN (employer identification number) of every one of the 1.4 million+ nonprofits recognized by the IRS. Nonprofit EINs are the key to fast research on nonprofits, and avoiding charity fakes.
- America’s worst charity according to the Tampa Bay Times is Kids Wish Network. Read our independent report on Kids Wish Network.
- 8 Things You Should Know About Deducting Gifts to Charity
- We’re talking again today about the smart part of Give Smart from Your Heart.
- According to the IRS, here are eight things you should know about deducting your gifts to charity:
- You must donate to a qualified charity if you want to deduct the gift. You can’t deduct gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates. [See CharityCheck101.org to check whether a group is a qualified charity.]
- In order for you to deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with your federal tax return.
- If you get a benefit in return for your contribution, your deduction is limited. You can only deduct the amount of your gift that’s more than the value of what you got in return. Examples of such benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services. [The quid pro quo rule.]
- If you give property instead of cash, the deduction is usually that item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market.
- Used clothing and household items generally must be in good condition to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.
- You must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, if your deduction for all noncash gifts is more than $500 for the year.
- You must keep records to prove the amount of the contributions you make during the year. The kind of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. For example, you must have a written record of any cash you donate, regardless of the amount, in order to claim a deduction. It can be a cancelled check, a letter from the organization, or a bank or payroll statement. It should include the name of the charity, the date and the amount donated. A cell phone bill meets this requirement for text donations if it shows this same information.
- To claim a deduction for donated cash or property of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the organization. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift.
- Your smart and easy assignment for today
- Print out our free charitable Giving Inventory form, and start keeping track of your donations. See episode #5 for more information and a link to the Giving Inventory.
- A big part of giving smart from your heart is knowing the tax rules that apply to giving to charity. Deducting gifts can save you real money at tax time.
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About Ed Long, the podcaster
Podcaster Ed Long has been preparing more than 40 years to do this podcast. He knows charities and the rules that apply to them. He’s analyzed charity finances and operations. He’s founded and run charities, and volunteered for them. He’s helped the public and law enforcement fight fake charities, and has served as a philanthropy educator and coach. Before all that he worked as a partner with a major Wall Street law firm. Ed is the founder and CEO of SeriousGivers, which itself is a charity. Ed knows the great work that strong charities can do with the resources entrusted to them, and is passionate about helping others find and support strong charities.