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Monday December 11, 2017

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IRS End-of-Year Gift Tips

In IR-2016-154 the IRS offered tips on how to document various 2016 charitable gifts. Gifts to qualified public charities are deductible. Taxpayers may use IRS Select Check on to know if a charity is qualified. The exception to this rule is that places of regular worship are qualified charities without registering with the IRS.

1. IRS Charitable Rollovers – If you are over 70½, you may make an IRA rollover gift by contacting your IRA custodian. The IRA custodian will make a transfer directly to charity. This will not be reported in your income and therefore is not an itemized deduction. The transfer may fulfill your required minimum distribution (RMD). This IRA charitable rollover is especially attractive if you do not itemize charitable deductions or have high income.

2. Monetary Gifts – You must have a bank record or written statement from the charity to qualify for itemizing your deduction. These gifts may include cash, checks, electronic fund transfers, credit card gifts and payroll deduction gifts. For payroll deduction gifts, you should retain a paystub, W-2 or other employer statement. You will need a contemporaneous written acknowledgement (receipt) if your gifts are over $250 to one charity.

3. Property Gifts – Clothing or household items gifted to charity must be in "good used or better" condition. If the household goods are valued over $500, it is an option for you to obtain a qualified appraisal. Once again, you will need a contemporaneous written acknowledgement if the gifts are over $250 in value. The gift of household goods receipt must include a property description. Generally, if you give property (other than public stock or bonds) to charity with value over $5,000, you must have an appraisal by a qualified appraiser and include IRS Form 8283 with your tax return.

4. Donor Benefit Gifts – If you make a gift to charity and receive a donor benefit in return, gifts over $75 require specific documentation. You must reduce the value of the gift by the benefit received. For example, if you attend a charity dinner that has a value of $25 and buy a ticket for $100, you may deduct $75.

5. Good Records – The IRS has specific explanations of all of these principles on Pub. 526 Charitable Contributions is particularly helpful if you have questions on how to document your gifts. You also may search for "Can I Deduct My Charitable Contributions?" on the IRS website.

Published December 2, 2016
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