Tax Tips to Get the Most from Your Charitable Contributions

Tax Day 2017 is Tuesday, April 18

by Judi SteadmanDirector of Individual & Planned Giving,
Susan G. Komen San Diego

Tax day is quickly approaching. As you are gathering all your information to file your taxes don’t forget about the gifts you have made over the past year to your favorite charity. Charitable contributions made to qualified organizations can help to lower your tax bill.

Here are a few tips to help make sure you get the maximum benefit from your contributions on your tax return:

1. In order to get a legitimate tax deduction your gift must be made to a qualified organization! If you are unsure if the organization qualifies, then take a look at IRS Publication 526 for what the rules are on what constitutes a qualified organization.

2. You have to file Form 1040 and itemize your gifts on Schedule A if you want to deduct a charitable contribution.

3. On gifts of that you made like sporting event tickets, merchandise or other goods and services you can only deduct the amount that exceeds the fair market value of whatever benefit was received.

4. If you made a donation of stock or other non-cash property – these are normally valued at what the fair market value** would be. If you donate clothing or household goods – they must be in very good condition to be deductible. If your total deduction for all noncash contributions for the year is over $500, you have to complete and attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to your return as well.

5. If you are donating an item that is valued at more than $5,000 you must also complete Section B of Form 8283, which requires that the item or items be appraised by a qualified appraiser.

6. In order to be able to deduct a contribution made of cash, check or other monetary gifts (like a wire transfer), you must maintain a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written communication from the organization containing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution 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.

** 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. For information on determining value, you can look at Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. All the forms and publications mentioned here are available at

Consider making a donation to Susan G. Komen San Diego today! 


*** This information is not intended to be tax advice. Always review your individual tax returns with your tax professional.