As the holiday season fast approaches, you may be considering how and what charities you will be donating to this year. We’ve put together some information that will help you – and your donor – get the most out of your generosity.
Donate to a Legitimate Organization
In order for your donation to be tax deductible, it must go to a qualified organization that meets IRS guidelines. All charities, with the exception of places of worship, must file reports with the IRS that detail how their funds are used. You can confirm an organization’s exempt status by requesting the organization's IRS determination letter, by calling the IRS directly at 1.877.829.5500 or by looking the charity up on a site like charitynavigator.org.
Remember that donations to individuals, while kind, are unfortunately not tax deductible.
Donating money is the simplest way to give. Remember to never donate cash as it cannot be easily traced back to you. Be sure to get a receipt for any donation you make. The receipt should include the date, the amount and the organization that received the donation.
Donating appreciated assets is another way to give money while minimizing your tax liability. Normally, appreciated property is subject to capital gains tax. By giving stock that you’ve held for more than a year directly to a qualified charity, you can claim a deduction for the full price of the asset and escape having to pay capital gains.
If you plan to donate property, you may want to consult a tax professional about the specific rules and deductions you can take. For example, if you donate something with a claimed value over $500, your deduction is dependent on whether that company uses it or sells it.
Note that if you contribute property worth more than $5,000, you must obtain a written appraisal of the property's fair market value.
Many times you’ll find yourself cleaning out closets or storage and find a number of goods that you may want to donate. Before dropping them off, be sure to note the fair market value of the goods so that you may include them on your tax deductions. Be sure to keep a detailed record of your donations. If possible, keep purchase receipts and take photographs showing the condition of the goods when you donated them.
Many people don’t realize that there are tax benefits to donating your time. While you can’t deduct the value of your time spent volunteering, you can deduct any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur during your volunteer efforts. This includes travel and gas expenses, parking expenses, any purchased equipment, the cost of maintaining your equipment and any uniforms required to perform your volunteer duties.
Many employers – like Rivermark – offer paid time off for volunteer work. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities, as your community could greatly benefit from your dedication of time.
If you’re looking for a charitable cause to donate to, don’t overlook the Rivermark Community Fund. The purpose is to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that support small businesses with access to capital and other resources that will result in improved economic vitality in our community. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit this website.