While we believe at Twin Cities Habitat that your primary motivation to donate to charity should be helping others in need, we also think you should know that great tax benefits exist for those who give.
A gift to a qualified charitable organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction against your income tax if you itemize deductions.
If the gifts are deductible, the actual cost of the donation is reduced by your tax savings. For example, if you are in the 33% tax bracket, the actual cost of a $100 donation is only $67 ($100 less the $33 tax savings). As your income tax bracket increases, the real cost of your charitable gift decreases, making contributions more attractive for those in higher brackets. The actual cost to a person in the lowest bracket, 15%, for a $100 contribution is $85. For a person in the highest bracket, 35%, the actual cost is only $65. Not only can the wealthy afford to give more, but they receive a larger reward for giving.
A contribution to a qualified charity is deductible in the year in which it is paid.
Putting the check in the mail to the charity constitutes payment. A contribution made on a credit card is deductible in the year it is charged to your credit card, even if payment to the credit card company is made in a later year.
There are limits to how much you can deduct, but they're very high.
For most people, the limits on charitable contributions don't apply. Only if you contribute more than 20% of your adjusted gross income to charity is it necessary to be concerned about donation limits. If the contribution is made to a public charity, the deduction is limited to 50% of your contribution base. For example, if you have an adjusted gross income of $100,000, your deduction limit for that year is $50,000.
The rules on 20% limits and 30% limits are way too complicated to delve into in this space. If you are giving to organizations other than those mentioned above, first consult with your tax adviser to determine whether these other ceilings will apply. If you give an amount in excess of the applicable limitation to charity in one year, the excess is carried over for the next five years.
Remember to document.
Starting in 2007, the IRS requires written documentation to substantiate deductions for all monetary donations - including cash. In case of an audit, you must have a canceled check, credit card statement or a written acknowledgement from the charity (showing the charity's name, the date of the donation and the amount given). You will no longer be able to deduct those few dollars you dropped in a charity's collection bucket without a receipt from the charity to back up your claim.
Content derived from www.charitynavigator.org.