If you itemize your deductions, making a contribution to your
favorite charity can help reduce your income taxes.
If you itemize your deductions, making a contribution to your favorite charity can help reduce your income taxes. Tax-deductible donations include cash, property, and your unreimbursed expenses as a volunteer. The records you need to support your deduction vary depending on the size and type of your donation.
Record-keeping requirements. For cash donations, save your canceled checks or receipts. For donated property, save records that show the cost and fair market value of the donated items. For unreimbursed expenses related to charitable volunteer work, keep records such as canceled checks, receipts, and mileage logs. Examples of unreimbursed expenses include uniforms and travel expenses.
Larger contributions require additional documentation. If you give more than $75 and you receive anything in exchange for your donation, the charity must provide a statement specifying the charitable amount. You are allowed to deduct only that amount. Contributions of more than $250 require a statement from the charitable organization that describes the gift. A donation of property valued in excess of $5,000 generally requires a recent written appraisal.
Tax planning. Donating appreciated property that you’ve owned for more than a year allows you to avoid paying tax on the capital gain while taking a deduction for the fair market value of the property. The deduction for donated property held one year or less is limited to your cost basis.
Perhaps you’d like to donate real estate or an investment that’s declined in value since you acquired it. If so, it’s generally best tax-wise to sell the property, deduct the loss, and donate the cash proceeds to the charity.
Getting the best tax results for your donations requires planning and good records. Call us if you are considering making sizable gifts to charities or other nonprofit organizations.
Mary Hubbell is a partner with the accounting and business consulting firm of Bianchi, Lorincz & Co. in downtown Hollister and in Morgan Hill.