If your total contributions for the year are 20% or less of your
adjusted gross income, you do not need to read this section. The
limits discussed here do not apply to you.
The amount of your deduction may be limited to either 20%,
30%, or 50% of your adjusted gross income, depending on the type
of property you give and the type of organization you give it to.
These limits are described below.
If your contributions are more than any of the limits that apply,
see Carryovers under How To Figure Your Deduction When
Limits Apply, later.
Amounts you spend performing services for a charitable
organization, which qualify as charitable contributions, are subject
to the limit of the organization. For example, the 50% limit applies
to amounts you spend on behalf of a church, a 50% limit organization.
These amounts are considered a contribution to a qualified
The 50% limit applies to the total of all charitable contributions
you make during the year. This means that your deduction for
charitable contributions cannot be more than 50% of your adjusted
gross income for the year.
Only limit for 50% organizations.
The 50% limit is the only limit that applies to gifts to
organizations listed below under 50% Limit
Organizations. But there is one exception.
The 30% limit also applies to these gifts if they are gifts of
capital gain property for which you figure your deduction using fair
market value without reduction for appreciation. (See 30% Limit
50% Limit Organizations
You can ask any organization whether it is a 50% limit
organization, and most will be able to tell you. Or you may check IRS
Publication 78 (described earlier).
Only the following types of organizations are 50% limit
- Churches, and conventions or associations of
- Educational organizations with a regular faculty and
curriculum that normally have a regularly enrolled student body
attending classes on site.
- Hospitals and certain medical research organizations
associated with these hospitals.
- Organizations that are operated only to receive, hold,
invest, and administer property and to make expenditures to or for the
benefit of state and municipal colleges and universities and that
normally receive substantial support from the United States or any
state or their political subdivisions, or from the general
- The United States or any state, the District of Columbia, a
U.S. possession (including Puerto Rico), a political subdivision of a
state or U.S. possession, or an Indian tribal government or any of its
subdivisions that perform substantial government functions.
- Corporations, trusts, or community chests, funds, or
foundations organized and operated only for charitable, religious,
educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or to prevent cruelty
to children or animals, or to foster certain national or international
amateur sports competition. These organizations must be "publicly
supported," which means they normally must receive a substantial
part of their support, other than income from their exempt activities,
from direct or indirect contributions from the general public or from
- Organizations that may not qualify as "publicly supported"
under (6) but that meet other tests showing they respond to the needs
of the general public, not a limited number of donors or other
persons. They must normally receive more than one-third of their
support either from organizations described in (1) through (6), or
from persons other than "disqualified persons."
- Most organizations operated or controlled by, and operated
for the benefit of, those organizations described in (1) through
- Private operating foundations.
- Private nonoperating foundations that make qualifying
distributions of 100% of contributions within 2 1/2 months
following the year they receive the contribution. A deduction for
charitable contributions to any of these private nonoperating
foundations must be supported by evidence from the foundation
confirming that it made the qualifying distributions timely. Attach a
copy of this supporting data to your tax return.
- A private foundation whose contributions are pooled into a
common fund, if the foundation would be described in (8) above but for
the right of substantial contributors to name the public charities
that receive contributions from the fund. The foundation must
distribute the common fund's income within 2 1/2 months
following the tax year in which it was realized and must distribute
the corpus not later than 1 year after the donor's death (or after the
death of the donor's surviving spouse if the spouse can name the
recipients of the corpus).
The 30% limit applies to the following gifts.
- Gifts of capital gain property to 50% limit organizations.
(For other gifts of capital gain property, see 20% Limit,
next.) However, the 30% limit does not apply when you choose to
reduce the fair market value of the property by the amount that would
have been long-term capital gain if you had sold the property.
Instead, only the 50% limit applies. See Capital Gain Property,
earlier, and Capital gain property election under
How To Figure Your Deduction When Limits Apply,
- Gifts (other than gifts of capital gain property - see
20% Limit, next) for the use of any
- Gifts (other than gifts of capital gain property - see
20% Limit, next) to all qualified organizations other than
50% limit organizations. This includes gifts to veterans'
organizations, fraternal societies, nonprofit cemeteries, and certain
private nonoperating foundations.
Student living with you.
Amounts you spend on behalf of a student living with you are
subject to the 30% limit. These amounts are considered a contribution
for the use of a qualified organization.
The 20% limit applies to all gifts of capital gain property to or
for the use of qualified organizations (other than gifts of capital
gain property to 50% limit organizations).
Table 3 - Filled in worksheet for deduction computation
How To Figure
When Limits Apply
If your contributions are subject to more than one of the limits
just discussed, you can deduct them as follows.
- Contributions subject only to the 50% limit, up
to 50% of your adjusted gross income.
- Contributions subject to the 30% limit, up to the
- 30% of adjusted gross income, or
- 50% of adjusted gross income minus your
contributions to 50% limit organizations, including
contributions of capital gain property subject to the 30%
- Contributions of capital gain property subject to
the 30% limit, up to the lesser of:
- 30% of adjusted gross income, or
- 50% of adjusted gross income minus your other
contributions to 50% limit organizations.
- Contributions subject to the 20% limit, up to the
- 20% of adjusted gross income,
- 30% of adjusted gross income minus your
contributions subject to the 30% limit,
- 30% of adjusted gross income minus your
contributions of capital gain property subject to the 30% limit,
- 50% of adjusted gross income minus the total of
your contributions to 50% limit organizations and your contributions
subject to the 30% limit.
If more than one of the limits described above limit your deduction
for charitable contributions, you may want to use the worksheet in
Table 4 on page 16 to figure your deduction and your
Your adjusted gross income is $50,000. During the year, you gave
your church $2,000 cash and land with a fair market value of $28,000
and a basis of $22,000. You held the land for investment purposes. You
do not choose to reduce the fair market value of the land by the
appreciation in value. You also gave $5,000 cash to a private
foundation to which the 30% limit applies.
The $2,000 cash donated to the church is considered first and is
fully deductible. Your contribution to the private foundation is
considered next. Because your contributions to 50% limit organizations
($2,000 + $28,000) are more than $25,000 (50% of $50,000), your
contribution to the private foundation is not deductible for the year.
It can be carried over to later years. See Carryovers,
later. The gift of land is considered next. Your deduction for the
land is limited to $15,000 (30% × $50,000). The unused part of
the gift of land ($13,000) can be carried over. For this year, your
deduction is limited to $17,000 ($2,000 + $15,000).
A Filled-In Worksheet for Limit on Deductions in
Table 3 on page 11 shows this computation in detail.
Capital gain property election.
You may choose the 50% limit for gifts of capital gain property to
50% limit organizations instead of the 30% limit that would otherwise
apply. If you make this choice, you must reduce the fair market value
of the property contributed by the appreciation in value that would
have been long-term capital gain if the property had been sold.
This choice applies to all capital gain property contributed to 50%
limit organizations during a tax year. It also applies to carryovers
of this kind of contribution from an earlier tax year. For details,
see Carryover of capital gain property, later.
You must make the choice on your original return or on an amended
return filed by the due date for filing the original return.
In the previous example, if you choose to have the 50% limit apply
to the land (the 30% capital gain property) given to your church, you
must reduce the fair market value of the property by the appreciation
in value. Therefore, the amount of your charitable contribution for
the land would be its basis to you of $22,000. You add this amount to
the $2,000 cash contributed to the church. You can now deduct $1,000
of the amount donated to the private foundation because your
contributions to 50% limit organizations ($2,000 + $22,000) are $1,000
less than the 50%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit. Your total deduction
for the year is $25,000 ($2,000 cash to your church, $22,000 for
property donated to your church, and $1,000 cash to the private
foundation). You can carry over to later years the part of your
contribution to the private foundation that you could not deduct
You can carry over your contributions that you are not able to
deduct in the current year because they exceed your
adjusted-gross-income limits. You can deduct the excess in each of the
next 5 years until it is used up, but not beyond that time. Your total
contributions deduction for the year to which you carry your
contributions cannot exceed 50% of your adjusted gross income for that
Contributions you carry over are subject to the same percentage
limits in the year to which they are carried. For example,
contributions subject to the 20% limit in the year in which they are
made are 20% limit contributions in the year to which they are
For each category of contributions, you deduct carryover
contributions only after deducting all allowable contributions in that
category for the current year. If you have carryovers from 2 or more
prior years, use the carryover from the earlier year first.
Last year, you contributed $11,000 to a 50% limit organization, but
because of the limit you deducted only $10,000 and carried over $1,000
to this year. This year your adjusted gross income is $20,000 and you
contribute $9,500 to a 50% limit organization. You can deduct $10,000
(50% of $20,000) this year. Consequently, in addition to your
contribution of $9,500 for this year, you can deduct $500 of your
carryover contribution from last year. You can carry over the $500
balance of your carryover from last year to next year.
This year your adjusted gross income is $24,000. You make cash
contributions of $6,000 to which the 50% limit applies and $3,000 to
which the 30% limit applies. You have a contribution carryover from
last year of $5,000 for capital gain property contributed to a 50%
limit organization and subject to the 30% limit for contributions of
capital gain property.
Your contribution deduction for this year is limited to $12,000
(50% of $24,000). Your 50% limit contributions of $6,000 are fully
The deduction for your 30% limit contributions of $3,000 is limited
to $1,000. This is the lesser of:
- $7,200 (30% of $24,000), or
- $1,000 ($12,000 minus $11,000).
(The $12,000 amount is 50% of $24,000, your adjusted gross
income. The $11,000 amount is the sum of your current and carryover
contributions to 50% limit organizations, $6,000 + $5,000.)
The deduction for your $5,000 carryover is subject to the 30% limit
for contributions of capital gain property. This means it is limited
to the smaller of:
- $7,200 (your 30% limit), or
- $6,000 ($12,000, your 50% limit, minus $6,000, the amount of
your cash contributions to 50% limit organizations this year).
Since your $5,000 carryover is less than both $7,200 and
$6,000, you can deduct it in full.
Your deduction is $12,000 ($6,000 + $1,000 + $5,000). You carry
over the $2,000 balance of your 30% limit contributions for this year
to next year.
Carryover of capital gain property.
If you carry over contributions of capital gain property subject to
the 30% limit and you choose in the next year to use the 50% limit and
take appreciation into account, you must refigure the carryover. You
reduce the fair market value of the property by the appreciation and
reduce that result by the amount actually deducted in the previous
Last year your adjusted gross income was $50,000 and you
contributed capital gain property valued at $27,000 to a 50% limit
organization and did not choose to use the 50% limit. Your basis in
the property was $20,000. Your deduction was limited to $15,000 (30%
of $50,000), and you carried over $12,000. This year your adjusted
gross income is $60,000 and you contribute capital gain property
valued at $25,000 to a 50% limit organization. Your basis in the
property is $24,000 and you choose to use the 50% limit. You must
refigure your carryover as if you had taken appreciation into account
last year as well as this year. Because the amount of your
contribution last year would have been $20,000 (the property's basis)
instead of the $15,000 you actually deducted, your refigured carryover
is $5,000 ($20,000 - $15,000). Your total deduction this year is
$29,000 (your $24,000 current contribution plus your $5,000
Additional rules for carryovers.
Special rules exist for computing carryovers if you:
- Were married in some years but not others,
- Had different spouses in different years,
- Change from a separate return to a joint return in a later
- Change from a joint return to a separate return in a later
- Had a net operating loss,
- Claim the standard deduction in a carryover year, or
- Become a widow or widower.
Because of their complexity and the limited number of taxpayers
to whom these additional rules apply, they are not discussed in this
publication. If you need to compute a carryover and you are in one of
these situations, you may want to consult with a tax practitioner.