It’s the most wonderful time of the year to consider making a contribution or donation to your favorite charity. Charitable contributions made to qualified organizations may help lower your tax bill, and the IRS offers these eight tips when making charitable contributions this holiday season:

  1. If your goal is a legitimate tax deduction, then you must be giving to a qualified organization. Remember, you cannot deduct contributions made to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates.
  2. To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file a Form 1040 and itemize deductions.
  3. If you receive a benefit from your contribution such as merchandise, tickets to a ball game or other goods and services, then you can only deduct the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received.
  4. Donations of stock or other non-cash property are usually valued at the fair market value of the property. Clothing and household items must generally be in good used condition or better to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.
  5. Fair market value is generally the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts.
  6. Regardless of the amount, to deduct a contribution of cash, check or other monetary gift, you must maintain a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written communication from the organization containing the name of the organization, and the date and amount of the contribution. For text message donations, a telephone bill will meet the record-keeping requirement if it shows the name of the receiving organization, the date of the contribution and the amount given.
  7. To claim a deduction for contributions of cash or property equaling $250 or more, you must have a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization showing the amount of the cash and a description of any property contributed. You must also indicate whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift. One document may satisfy both the written communication requirement for monetary gifts and the written acknowledgement requirement for all contributions of $250 or more. If your total deduction for all non-cash contributions for the year is more than $500, you must complete and attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to your return.
  8. Taxpayers donating an item or a group of similar items valued at more than $5,000 must also complete Section B of Form 8283, which generally requires an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.

Contact Doeren Mayhew for more information on qualified charitable contributions.