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Tax deductible donations: Giving to charity rules

Tax deductible donations: Giving to charity rules

Looking to make charitable donations and take advantage of tax deductions?

So, this guide is here to help you navigate the rules and regulations around tax deductible donations.

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about charitable donations, including:

  • What is a charitable donation?
  • How do charitable tax deductions work?
  • Which donations qualify for deductions?
  • How to claim tax deductible donations on your tax return.
  • Strategies for maximizing your tax deductions.

What is a charitable donation?

So, you're feeling generous and want to donate to a good cause?

That's great!

A charitable donation is simply a contribution you make to a qualified charitable organization. It can be anything from cash to goods or even appreciated assets.

However, for your donation to be eligible for tax deductions, the charitable organization must be registered as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

How do tax deductions on donations work?

Ah, the million-dollar question.

When you make a charitable donation, you can deduct the value of your donation from your taxable income. This can lower your overall tax liability and may result in a larger tax refund.

But hold on, there are rules to follow and limitations to consider.

To claim a tax deduction for your charitable donations, you'll need to itemize your deductions on your tax return using Schedule A. This means you'll have to have enough deductible expenses to exceed the standard deduction amount.

NOTE! For 2024, the standard deduction will be $14,600 for single filers and $29,200 for married couples filing jointly (see the table below).

The maximum amount you can deduct from your taxable income for charitable donations depends on the type of organization you donate to.

You can generally deduct up to 60% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) for donations made to public charities and private foundations.

For donations made to donor-advised funds, the limit is 30% of AGI. If you donate more than the limits, you can carry over the excess to future tax years.

Which donations qualify for tax deductions?

Not all donations are created equal, my friends. To qualify for tax deductions, your donation must be made to a qualified charitable organization.

These organizations include those that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in nature.

NOTE! Unfortunately, donations made to individuals, political organizations, or foreign organizations generally do not qualify for deductions.

You'll also need to have documentation to back up your charitable donations.

  • For cash donations - a receipt, bank statement, or canceled check will suffice.
  • For non-cash donations, such as clothing or household items - you'll need to keep a detailed list of the items donated and their fair market value.

If you donate a single item worth $5,000 or more, you'll have to get an appraisal to support your deduction.

How to claim tax deductible donations on your tax return

To claim your charitable deductions on your tax return, you'll need to provide some information about the donations you made.

This includes the name and address of the charity you donated to, the date and amount of your donation, and a description of the items donated and their fair market value, if applicable.

Pro Tip. It's important to keep accurate records of your donations throughout the year so that you're prepared come tax time. The IRS may ask for documentation of your donations, such as receipts or acknowledgement letters from the organizations you donated to.

So, don't be lazy and keep track of your giving – you'll be glad you did come tax season!

What is the minimum amount of charitable giving required to impact your taxes?

If you want your charitable contributions to impact your taxes, you'll need to itemize your deductions on your tax return.

This means adding up all your anticipated deductions, including your charitable gifts, and seeing if they add up to more than the standard deduction.

If they do, then you can use those deductions to lower your tax bill.

Standard Tax Deductions 2024
Filing status Standard deduction
Single $14,600
Married filing jointly $29,200
Head of household $21,900

Strategies for maximizing your tax deductions

If you're looking to maximize your tax deductions, there are a few strategies you can consider:

1. Consider donating appreciated assets

If you have stocks, mutual funds, or other assets that have increased in value, donating them directly to a qualified charity can be a smart move.

You'll be able to deduct the full value of the asset at the time of the donation, and you won't have to pay capital gains taxes on the appreciation.

This can be a great way to support a charitable cause while also minimizing your tax liability.

2. Make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD)

If you're over age 70 1/2 and have a traditional IRA, you can make a QCD of up to $100,000 per year.

This allows you to donate money directly to a qualified charity from your IRA without having to pay income tax on the distribution.

This can be a great way to support your favorite causes while also satisfying your required minimum distributions (RMDs).

3. Bundle your donations

If you're close to the threshold for itemizing your deductions, you might consider bundling your donations into one tax year.

For example, if you normally donate $5,000 per year to charity, you could donate $10,000 in one year and then skip the next year.

This way, you'll be able to itemize your deductions and take advantage of the tax benefits in the year you make the larger donation.

4. Donate to a donor-advised fund

Donor-advised funds allow you to make a charitable contribution and receive an immediate tax deduction, while also giving you the flexibility to decide which charities to support at a later time.

This can be a great way to maximize your tax deductions in a high-income year and still have the ability to support your favorite causes over time.

Check before donating money: Beware of fake charities

  • Verify the legitimacy of a charity before donating by using the Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool on
  • Ask for the charity's exact name, website, and mailing address to independently confirm the information.
  • Don't give in to pressure. Scammers often insist on making an immediate payment. Legitimate charities are happy to receive donations at any time.
  • Don't give more than needed, and treat personal information like cash.
  • Be wary of charities that ask for donations through gift cards or wire transfers.
  • If you encounter a fake or suspicious charity, report it to the FBI's resources on Charity and Disaster Fraud.

To sum up

Making tax deductible donations to qualified charitable organizations can be a great way to support the causes you care about while also reducing your tax liability.

Pro Tip. Just remember to keep accurate records, follow the rules and regulations, and consider some of the strategies discussed above to maximize your tax benefits.

And - as soon as you have questions or need help navigating the world of tax deductions, feel free to consult a tax expert.

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1. How much of my donation is tax deductible?

When you donate to an IRS-recognized charity, you can typically deduct the donation on your tax return. The deductible amount generally caps at 60% of your income for charitable contributions.

However, specific rules apply, so consulting a tax professional for guidance is advisable.

2. What's the IRS limit on charitable donations?

For individual taxpayers, the IRS typically limits deductible charitable contributions to 60% of their income. For corporations, the limit is usually 10% of taxable income.

3. Can I deduct donations under $250?

Yes, donations under $250 to a charity can be tax-deductible. For such donations, ensure you have a bank record or a receipt from the charity.

For donations of $250 or more, a written acknowledgment from the charity is required. Keeping accurate records is key for claiming these deductions.

Ines Zemelman, EA
Founder of TFX