In one of the old M*A*S*H books - I'm not sure if it was the original hit book or one of the lame paperback sequels - Dr. Frank Burns would meticulously keep track of his charitable donations for the IRS. He was rather creative - he would buy a pack of cigarettes and write it down as a donation to "Little Sisters of the Poor" - but he had something to show the IRS when they came around.
This won't work anymore. The new pension bill (H.R. 4) awaiting the President's signature requires a cancelled check or a written receipt from the donee organization to support any cash contribution. Credit card receipts should also work. This takes effect for 2007.
These new requirements are in addition to the existing rule that gifts of $250 or more require a written receipt from the charity; for these gifts, a cancelled check alone isn't enough.
So when you sit down with your preparer in April 2008, it's not going to be enough to say, "oh, I'm very generous, I'm sure I put $5 cash in the collection plate each week." No receipt or cancelled check, no deduction.
The items included in the Tax Update Blog are informational only and are not meant as tax advice. Consult with your tax advisor to determine how any item applies to your situation.
Joe Kristan writes the Tax Update items, and any opinions expressed or implied are not necessarily shared by anyone else at Roth & Company, P.C. Address questions or comments on Tax Updates to