Charitable Giving – Acknowledgement and Substantiation
The Tax Code allows for deductions for charitable contributions. However, to be eligible, strict acknowledgement/substantiation rules must be adhered to. Below please find such acknowledgement/substantiation rules.
To claim deduction, the charity must provide an acknowledgement by the tax return filing deadline (April 15th), or October 15th if an extension is filed. If a return is filed late, the deduction can only be claimed if the taxpayer can prove the existence of the written acknowledgement in hand by the original filing deadline of April 15th, or October 15th if an extension is filed.
• If a donation of $250 or more is made by cash or by check, the charity must indicate the amount of the donation, and a statement that the taxpayer did not receive anything in return. If the taxpayer did receive certain benefits, the charity must indicate the amount of the benefit received, and this portion is non-deductible.
• If a donation of $250 or more is made by property, or a combination of cash and property, the charity must provide description of the property and a statement that the taxpayer did not receive anything in return. However, the charity does not need to indicate the value of the property received.
Cash donations of less than $250.
For any charitable contributions made by cash, check, or other forms of monetary gift, records must be retained to prove the authenticity of the charitable contributions, without regard of the amount. As a result, the donor must retain:
• Bank records: or
• A receipt, letter or other forms of written communication from the recipient of the charitable contributions indicating the name of the recipient, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the charitable contribution.
Donations of clothing and household goods
In addition to the regular substantiation rules as discussed above, the taxpayer must prove that the donated items are in at least good condition.
There is only one exception to the rule:
• The taxpayer claimed more than $500 for the single clothing or household item, and
• The taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal for the item with the tax return
Vehicle and boats
If the charity does not use the vehicle donated, deduction in the amount greater than the amount sold by the charity is disallowed. The charity must document the receipt of the vehicle and sale or gift of the vehicle by using Form 1098C, Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats or Airplanes. The charity must provide a copy of the form to the taxpayer, and the taxpayer is required to submit the form with the tax return. There are strict time constraints on when the charity must provide the taxpayer with the form.
Acknowledgement is not required if the amount withheld from a single paycheck is less than $250. If the amount is $250 or more, the substantiation requirements can be satisfied by pay stubs, the taxpayer’s W-2 form, or any other document provided by the taxpayer’s employer indicating the amount withheld, and a pledge card or equivalent document indicating that the charity didn’t provide the taxpayer with goods or services in return. The pledge card can also be prepared by the taxpayer’s employer as directed by the charity.
For property with a value of more than $500, the taxpayer must include a written description of the property donated and any other mandatory information that the IRS may require together with the tax return.
For property with a value of more than $5,000, the taxpayer must also get a qualified appraisal.
For property with a value of $500,000 or more, the taxpayer must include the appraisal with the return.