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IRS GUIDANCE ON YEAR-END GIVING

December 15, 2006

This week the IRS issued a helpful summary (IR-2006-192) of the rules on charitable giving. They also covered the changes in the charitable giving rules made earlier this year. Some highlights:

To be deductible, clothing and household items donated to charity after Aug. 17, 2006, must be in good used condition or better. However, a taxpayer may claim a deduction of more than $500 for any single item, regardless of its condition, if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.

So no deduction for your your old briefs, unless they appraise out at over $500.


Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of the year count for 2006. This is true even if the credit-card bill isn’t paid until next year. Also, checks count for 2006 as long as they are mailed this year.

If you mail a big check, a certified mail receipt with a postmark will help a great deal if you get audited.

Check that the organization is qualified. Only donations to qualified organizations are tax-deductible. IRS Publication 78, available online and at many public libraries, lists most organizations that are qualified to receive deductible contributions. The searchable online version can be found on IRS.gov under, “Search for Charities.” In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations, even though they often are not listed in Publication 78.


For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Schedule A can claim a deduction for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to people who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short form (1040A or 1040EZ).

For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes a description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes a description of the property and its condition.

The deduction for a motor vehicle, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value of the vehicle is more than $500. Form 1098-C, or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.

Giving is worthy, but deducting is wise. Make sure you document your gifts. And remember, if you donate property other than publicly-traded securities, and your donation exceeds $5,000, you'll need a qualified appraisal.

The Tax Prof has more.

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