Tax Tips & Calculators Tips from H&R Block

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1 Tax Tips & Calculators Tips from H&R Block Overview You can deduct your contributions to charitable (non-profit) organizations only if you itemize your deductions. You can't deduct the value of your time or services spent on charitable work, but you can deduct mileage or vehicle expenses if you use your car for charitable purposes. Your deduction for charitable contributions usually is limited to 50% of your adjusted gross income. If you itemize your deductions, you can reduce your taxable income by claiming your donations to qualified charitable organizations. Claim charitable donations on Form 1040, Schedule A. Your donations must go to 1 of these IRS-certified qualified organizations to be deductible: Nonprofit religious group Nonprofit educational group Nonprofit charitable group These groups are often referred to as 501(c)(3) organizations. Donations made directly to needy individuals don't count as charitable donations. Money Donations Money donations are donations made directly to a nonprofit organization using 1 of these payment methods: Cash Check Credit card Debit card Payroll deduction Automatic withdrawals from your bank account If you accept something in return for your gift, you can't write off the full amount. Ex: A local public television station offers a CD player in exchange for a $1,000 donation to its annual fund drive. If the CD player's value is $200, your deduction is limited to $800 the difference between what you gave and what you got. You can claim the full charitable deduction only if you refuse to accept the CD player.

2 The donor can disregard goods and services received if (for 2010) 1 of these applies: Their fair market value isn't more than the lesser of 2% of the payment or $97. The payment is at least $40 for 2011, and the only benefits received are token items bearing the organization's logo like mugs and T-shirts with an aggregate cost of no more than $9.70 for The organization distributes free, unordered items to patrons accompanied by a request for a donation. The annual payment is $75 or less, and the donor receives certain rights and privileges like discounted admission to performances. Discounted tickets to athletic events aren't included in this exception. If you're not sure if the organization you're donating to is IRS-approved, ask a group official for the organization's tax ID number.then check IRS Publication 78: Cumulative List of Organizations for names of qualified tax-exempt organizations. Recordkeeping Requirements The recordkeeping requirements for donations differ depending on the type and the amount of the donation. Cash donations of less than $250 To deduct a cash donation, regardless of the amount, you must prove the donation amount with bank records, including: Bank or credit union statements Canceled checks Credit card statements Bank records must show the organization's name, the date, and the donation amount. Written records prepared by the donor, like check registers or personal notations, aren't enough to support charitable donations. For donations made by payroll deduction, you can prove your donations if you have both of these: Document your employer furnishes showing the amount withheld, like a pay stub or W-2 Pledge card or other document from the organization stating it doesn't provide goods or services for donations made by payroll deduction

3 Cash donations of $250 or more You can claim these donations if the qualified organization gives you a written acknowledgement of the donation that includes all of these: Amount of cash contributed Statement showing if the organization gave goods or services other than token items or membership as a result of the donation Description and good faith estimate of the value of goods and services described in the second bullet You must receive this acknowledgement by the earlier of: Date return is filed for the year the donation is made Due date, including extensions, for filing the return Noncash donations of less than $250 For these donations, the organization must give a receipt showing: Organization's name and address Date and location of donation Reasonably detailed description of the property donated However, you don't have to get a receipt if it's impossible or impractical to get one like when property is donated at an unattended drop-off site. In these cases, you must keep a reliable written record for each donated item showing: Organization's name and address Date and location of donation Reasonably detailed description of the property donated Fair market value of the donation at the time of donation with explanation telling how you determined the fair market value Cost or other basis you had in the donation if you must reduce the fair market value by appreciation. The record must also show the amount of the reduction and how you determined it. If you're contributing less than the entire interest in the donation during the year, you must show the amount you're claiming as a deduction for the year as a result of the donation. If the other portion of the interest has been donated, you must provide details of each donation of the other interests. Terms and conditions attached to the donation

4 Noncash donations of at least $250 but less than $500 You must get and keep a written receipt or acknowledgment from the organization for these donations. You must get this acknowledgement before or on the later of your filing date or the due date of the return, including extensions. The written receipt or acknowledgement of your donation must include: Donation amount Description of donation Indication of goods or services you received, if any, other than certain token items or membership benefits Description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services you received unless the only benefit received was an intangible religious benefit like admission to a religious ceremony The organization can provide a separate statement for each donation or periodic statements proving your donations. To learn more, see IRS Publication 1771: Charitable Contributions Noncash donations of more than $500 but less than $5,000 For this donation you must have a written acknowledgement and written record, which includes: How you acquired the donated property like purchase, gift, or inheritance Approximate date you acquired donated property or approximate date you substantially completed donated property if it was: o Created o Produced o Manufactured Cost or other basis, and adjustments to the basis, of property held less than 12 months. If available, include the cost or other basis of property held 12 months or more. This requirement doesn't apply to publicly traded securities. Noncash donations of $5,000 or more If you make a noncash single charitable donation, for 1 item or a group of similar items, that's more than $5,000: The organization must give you a written acknowledgement. You must keep the records required under the rules for donations of more than $500 but less than $5,000. When figuring if a deduction is more than $5,000, you must combine all deductions for similar items donated to all organizations during the year. An appraisal is usually also required.

5 Appraisals When the value of your donation is more than a certain limit, you must get a qualified written appraisal from a qualified appraiser. Such appraisals are required when the value of: A single donated item or a group of similar items is greater than $5,000. Stock not traded publicly is $10,000 or more. Publicly traded securities don't require a written appraisal. You're also required to get an appraisal for an item of clothing or a household item if either of these applies to the item: It's valued at more than $500. It isn't in good condition. Ex: Melissa donates a marble-topped table to a charity. The table is badly damaged and can't be used without extensive repairs, which the charity can make. An appraiser determines the quality of the marble and the table's other features and gives it a value of $650. The qualified appraiser must be someone with the education, credentials, and experience needed to evaluate the specific kind of donated property. The IRS imposes a substantial penalty if the donated property's value is significantly overstated. The cost of the required appraisal can't be part of your charitable donation. Instead, you can deduct it as a miscellaneous itemized expense. To learn more, see Appraisals in IRS Publication 561: Determining the Value of Donated Property. Appreciated Property The tax-saving potential can be much greater when you donate appreciated property like: Stocks Real estate Art Antiques However, the rules are more complicated. Your deduction depends partly on if the property you donated is considered capital-gain or ordinary-income property. To learn more, see IRS Publication 526: Charitable Contributions

6 Item Donations Donating property can earn you a deduction just as donating money can. Property donations are usually used clothing and household goods. Your write-off for such donations is the fair market value of the property at the time you give it. Item donations must be in good used condition to qualify for a deduction. Although good used condition isn't defined, you should only deduct donations if the organization intends to sell or use the donated items for its charitable purposes. If an item is heavily worn, ask the organization if it will sell or use the item. It's often difficult to determine the fair market value of used items. Even the IRS has no stated amounts considered acceptable for these items. However, the Salvation Army publishes a guide providing the average prices of clothing, furniture and household items in its stores. You can use this guide to establish the value of these items. See IRS Publication 561: Determining the Value of Donated Property to learn more. Relatively new rules apply to the donation of a car or other vehicle. Since Congress was concerned taxpayers were overstating the value of vehicles given to charities, it passed legislation limiting the amount you can deduct. When you donate a vehicle to a charity and the charity sells the vehicle, the charity must send you a Form 1098-C within 30 days of the sale telling you the sales price. This sets the amount you can deduct on your return. However, there s 1 exception: If the claimed car's value is $500 or less, you can deduct the value of the donated vehicle. You'll still deduct the vehicle's fair market value at the time of the donation if the charity: Makes substantial improvements to the car Fixes up the car and sells it Gives it to a needy person Uses it in its charitable efforts To learn more, see IRS Publication 526: Charitable Contributions.

7 Out-of-Pocket Expenses You can also deduct expenses for doing volunteer work for a qualified organization. You can deduct: Mileage expenses if you use your car while doing volunteer work for a hospital or school Mileage expenses for miles you drive to and from a charity to drop-off donated goods Parking fees, tolls, or public transportation expenses while doing volunteer work or dropping off donated goods The mileage rate for 2011 is $0.14 a mile. You can also deduct the cost and care of a special uniform you're required to wear while performing services for the organization. Ex: If you're a scoutmaster, you can deduct: Cost and upkeep of your scout uniform and associated items needed Materials and supplies you pay for and use your volunteer efforts, like stationery and stamps You can't write off the value of services or time you donate. Ex: If you're a carpenter who usually charges $45 an hour, and you spend 20 hours helping to build a wing on your church, you can't deduct $900 or any other amount for your time. Under the tax law, only a completed transfer of money or a full interest in property qualifies for the deduction. If you're a foster parent, you can deduct as a charitable donation some of the cost of providing for your foster children. You can deduct the cost that's more than the reimbursement you receive if you aren't in the trade or business or providing foster care. You can also earn a charitable deduction if a student lives in your home under a program sponsored by a qualified organization. To qualify for this deduction, the student: Can be American or foreign Must be a full-time elementary or high school student You can deduct up to $50 a month of what you spend for the student, including the cost of: Books Tuition Food Clothing Entertainment You'll need to count each month the student lives with you for 15 or more days to figure how many $50 allotments you can claim.

8 Form 8283: Noncash Charitable Contributions If you claim a deduction for donated property with a total aggregate value not per item value of more than $500 for the year, you must file Form 8283: Noncash Charitable Contributions. The information Form 8283 requires is basically the same as what you need to prove a charitable gift what you gave, when, and to whom. For each item valued at more than $500 each, you must also specify: When and how you acquired the item Item's cost or adjusted basis Ex: Kora made 3 trips during the year to the Salvation Army to drop off some small household items and a few bags of clothing. The value of the items she dropped off during each trip was $131, $155, and $97, respectively. Since the donations' total amount ($383) is less than $500, she doesn t need to file Form However, if she also donated $175 in goods to Goodwill Industries, she can add this donation's value to the value of her Salvation Army donation ($383). Since her total would be more than $500, she must file Form Charitable Deduction Limits Your deductions can't be more than 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) if the donations are to: Public charities Colleges Religious organizations Within that overall limit, gifts of appreciated property can't total more than 30% of your AGI. Appreciated property is property that's increased in value since you originally acquired it. Donations to certain organizations, like veterans' groups, come under an overall 30%-of-AGI limit, with a 20% limit of AGI cap on gifts of certain appreciated property. To learn more, see IRS Publication 526: Charitable Contributions.

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