1. Choose a qualified organization. When ready to make your gifts, choose organizations, charities, or research funds that qualify to receive deductible contributions. Registered non-profits are great organizations to make donations to and the IRS offers a simple searchable database on their website. You can donate to exempt organizations in your area or around the country.
2. Use credit. If you have already exhausted your holiday spending budget, but you know you will have extra cash after the New Year, use your credit card to make charitable donations. All charitable donations made in 2012 may be deducted from your 2012 tax returns, regardless if you choose to pay the balance in 2013 and beyond.
3. Use the correct forms. If you are gifting as an individual, make sure you qualify for gift deductions. Individuals who file a 1040A or a 1040EZ are not eligible. Charitable contributions can be deducted for individuals who use a 1040 Schedule A.
Just as one asks for a gift receipt so the recipient can exchange the gift if they desire, ask for and retain all receipts for charitable gifts and donations that you make. Keep a separate file of hard copy receipts that shows proof of your charitable contributions made in 2012. If you donate a vehicle valued at over $500, the receiving organization must supply a Form 1098-C.
In order to deduct cash donations given to qualified charities, you must retain a bank record of the donation that reflects the date, name of the charity, and the amount. Examples of valid bank records:
- Canceled checks
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
Remember, there are additional forms you will need to complete depending on the total values of the donations you make. You will need to speak with your tax advisor if you:
- Donate clothing, household products or other property that is valued at over $250
- Make non-cash donations that exceed $500