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Tax Topic #506 2008 Tax Year

Topic 506 - Contributions

Charitable contributions are deductible only if you itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF).

To be deductible, charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations. See Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

If your contribution entitles you to merchandise, goods, or services, including admission to a charity ball, banquet, theatrical performance, or sporting event, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received. For a contribution of cash, check, or other monetary gift (regardless of amount), you must maintain as a record of the contribution either a bank record or a written communication from the donee organization containing the date and amount of the contribution and the name of the donee. You generally can deduct the fair market value of any property you donate, as well as your cash contributions, to qualified organizations. See Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. For any contribution of $250 or more (including contributions of cash or property), you must obtain and keep in your records a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the donee organization indicating the amount of the cash and a description of any property contributed, and whether the donee organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift. One document from the donee organization may satisfy both the written communication requirement for monetary gifts and the contemporaneous written acknowledgement requirement for all contributions of $250 or more.

You must fill out Form 8283 (PDF) Section A, if your total deduction for all noncash contributions is more than $500. An appraisal generally must be obtained if you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth more than $5,000. In that case, you must also fill out Form 8283 Section B. Attach Form 8283 to your return.

For more information refer to Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, and for information on determining value, refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 22, 2008

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