Charitable contributions are deductible only if you itemize deductions on Schedule A of
To be deductible, charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations.
Qualified organizations include but are not limited to federal, state, and local
governments and organizations organized and operated only for charitable, religious,
educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to
children or animals. Organizations can tell you if they are qualified and if donations to
them are deductible.
If your contribution entitles you to merchandise, goods, or services, including
admission to a 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 $250 or more, you can claim a deduction only if you obtain a
written acknowledgment from the qualified organization. You generally can deduct your cash
contributions as well as the fair market value of any property you donate to qualified
organizations. The fair market value of most household or personal items is generally much
less than the price paid when new. You should claim only what the item would sell for at a
garage sale, a flea market, or a second hand or thrift store. You must fill out Section A
of Form 8283 if your total deduction for all
noncash contributions is more than $500. If you make a contribution of noncash property
worth more than $5,000, generally an appraisal must be done. In that case, you must also
fill out Section B of Form 8283. Attach Form 8283 to your return. For more information on
this requirement, see Publication 526.
Generally, if property you contribute increased in value while you owned it, you may
not be able to deduct its full value. You must make an additional computation which
includes the property's cost to determine the deductible amount of your contribution.
Contributions you can not deduct at all include contributions made to specific
individuals, political organizations and candidates, the value of your time or services
and the cost of raffles, bingo, or other games of chance. You can not deduct contributions
that you give to qualified organizations if, as a result, you receive or expect to receive
a financial, economic benefit equal to the contribution.
Although you cannot deduct the value of your time or services, you can deduct the
expenses you incur while donating your services to a qualified organization. If the
expenses are for travel, which may include transportation and meals and lodging while away
from home, they may be deducted only if there is no significant element of personal
pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel. Actual costs of gas and oil can be
deducted, or you can choose to take 12 cents per mile for using your own car. Beginning in
1998, the rate will be 14 cents per mile.
If your total contributions for the year are 20% or less of your Adjusted Gross Income,
your deduction is not limited. Contributions in excess of 20% may be limited depending
upon the type of property or the type of organization the donation is contributed to.
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. To order these publications, call 1-800-829-3676.
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