The IRS means business when it comes to properly documenting donations given to charity. Because of a change in the tax law you must now obtain written documentation for ALL cash donations. Prior to the tax law change if your cash donation was less than $250, you weren’t required to have it substantiated with a receipt from the charity. But now you do. This means all tithes to your church too, that’s if of course, you’re going to claim it as an itemized deduction.
Here’s a suggestion to ensure all of your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted in case of an audit. Always maintain good records and do it now instead of procrastinating till the tax deadline is staring you in the face. When you give to your local charity make sure you get a receipt. It must show the charity’s name, the date you contributed and the amount you donated.
Here’s something else you might not be aware of, if you use a credit card to make your charitable donation in 2008, you can claim a deduction even if you don’t pay it off until 2009. Sweet huh?
What if your donation is of the non-cash variety? Well, if you claim a deduction and it’s less than $250 you must get a receipt from the charity. Again, the receipt must show who, when and the amount you donated. If your contribution is over $250 but less than $500 don’t walk away without a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the charity. In other words, GET A DETAILED RECEIPT!! For taxpayers who can give more than $500 but not more than $5000 you must follow the same rules, but you must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions.
And for you blessed taxpayers who give more than $5000 the same rule applies but you must obtain a qualified appraisal. Contributions larger than $500,000 require you to attach a copy of an appraisal to your return.
If you’ll follow the practice of obtaining detailed receipts and keep good records every time you give to a charity, you’ll be able to calmly stand up to any inquiry by the Internal Revenue Service.