Charitable giving - get a receipt

By Andrea Karim on 27 December 2006 (Updated 10 June 2007) 3 comments

Gimme

Here's hoping that I get this right - according to the IRS and NPR, new provisions are going into effect next year that will change the requirements for receiving a deduction on your taxes for charitable donations. The story that I heard on the radio referred most to donations to religious institutions, but it probably relates to other giving as well.

So, as far as I can deduce, you probably want to give your money in larger chunks, and get a receipt every time. In the past, the IRS was content with an honor system in which you merely reported your donations of under $250. Apparently they felt that writing this information down (on a day planner or journal or calendar) constituted proof that the donation was actually given - but they no longer do.

"To deduct any charitable donation of money, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. A bank record includes canceled checks, bank or credit union statements and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity and the date and amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity and the transaction posting date. Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card, and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity."

The IRS clears up the mystery (not) here. Skip through the IRA stuff unless it applies to you (you're over 70 and have an IRA). You can listen to the NPR story here.

The basic takeaway message is, when giving to charity, either pay with a check or credit card, or GET A RECEIPT. Don't let anyone make you feel cheap for asking for it, either. Like those bastards at the Goodwill Donation Center that I went to last week.

"Do you... sigh... want a RECEIPT???"

The answer (all together now): "Yes, I would. Thank you."

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Guest

"A bank record includes canceled checks, bank or credit union statements and credit card statements."

Does that not include PayPal then?

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Flimsy Sanity

Mark Twain said the only true charity is anonymous charity. Guess any of that needs to stop.

Andrea Karim's picture

But the more I go through life, the more I realize that I have to take what I can get. I went through a point a few years ago, when I was only taking home about $1200 a month (most of which, of course, went to rent), but I was giving something like $250 a month in charity. And I NEVER claimed it on my taxes. I felt like it was selfless, but honestly, it was selfish, because I loved the holier-than-thou-I'm-such-a-martyr feeling I could get when I barely had enough money to scrape by.

Nowadays, I realize that if I claim it, and get to keep more of my own money as a result, then I have more to give.