Charitable Contributions

How can I find out if charitable contributions to a particular charity are tax-deductible?

You can check the Internal Revenue Service Publication 78 available online at Another option is to ask the particular charity or check their website.

What types of deductible contributions can be made to a charity?

Deductible contributions include money, stock, bonds, and personal property. The deduction for contributions other than money is the fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution. Please note the charitable deduction for self-created property is limited to the donor’s cost basis.

What types of organizations generally qualify for a charitable donation?

Generally, organizations operating for religious, charitable, educational, scientific, literary and the prevention to cruelty to children or animals qualify for a charitable deduction. If you are unsure, you can check IRS Publication 78 or ask the charity.

What types of organizations generally do not qualify for a charitable deduction?

Contributions to foreign organizations, social and sports clubs, labor unions, chambers of commerce, political groups including lobbying, and homeowners’ associations are generally not tax-deductible.

What is the limit on the deductibility of charitable contributions?

For individuals, you may generally deduct contributions totaling up to 50% of your adjusted gross income. If you make contributions in excess of the limit, you may carry the deduction forward for use in the next 5 years, until the deduction is fully used. In some cases, contributions of capital gain property may be limited to 30% of adjusted gross income. You should check with a tax professional as to which limit will apply.

Can I deduct contributions to tax-exempt organizations?

You can deduct contributions as an itemized deduction on Schedule A if the organization is qualified to receive deductible contributions. Ask the organization or check IRS Publication 78.

Is federal gift or estate tax due on my charitable gift?

Gifts to qualified organizations are not subject to estate or gift tax. A gift to a non-qualified organization in excess of the annual gift tax exclusion ($14,000 for 2014) may require you to file a gift tax return. You should consult a tax professional if you make such a gift.

Some charities talk about planned or deferred giving. What is that?

Planned giving refers to gifts of property made through your will at death. Deferred giving refers to gifts of cash, securities or other assets to a charity for which you receive annual income and payments on those assets for a specified period of time. You should consult with a tax professional if you are considering this type of gift.

Can I receive a tax deduction for the contribution of my car?

You may claim a charitable contribution deduction for your vehicle equal to the smaller of the fair market value on the date of the contribution or the amount the charitable organization received when the car was sold. The organization should send you a Form 1098-C (Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes) which will show the amount they received for the vehicle and you must attach the Form 1098-C to your return.