IRS offers donation tips

KINGMAN - The IRS is offering some tax tips for year-end donations. Only taxpayers who file an itemized tax return, Form 1040 Schedule A, can claim deductions for charitable donations. If you file Form 1040 A or Form 1040EZ, you cannot file for charitable donations. The forms are available online at www.IRS.gov or at the local library. Also, taxpayers will only have a tax savings if their donations and other tax deductions, such as mortgage interest, exceed their standard deduction.

Check to make sure your donation is going to a qualified charity. Only donations that go to qualified charities are deductible. For a list of qualified charities, visit www.IRS.gov or ask for IRS publication 78. Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are all eligible, even if they are not listed in IRS publication 78.

In order to claim a tax deduction for clothing or household goods, such as furniture, electronics or appliances, donated to charity, the items must be in good condition or better. Items worth $500 or more that are donated do not have to meet this standard if a taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with their tax return.

Try to get a receipt that states the name of the charity, the date of the donation and a description of the items. If a donation is left at a drop box, try to record the date of the drop-off and a fair market value of the items and the method used to come up with that value.

To deduct a monetary donation, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written letter from the charity showing the charity's name, the date and the amount of the donation. Bank records include canceled checks or bank, credit card or credit union statements. Statements should show the name of the charity, the date and the amount donated.

Taxpayers need to supply a letter for each charity that they donated $250 or more in money or items.

Also, charitable contributions are only deductible in the year they are made. If a check is cashed or credit card is charged in 2009, then it counts for your 2009 taxes.

Donations of cars, boats and airplanes are based on how much the charity sells the vehicle for. The charity must give a taxpayer a Form 1098-C or similar statement for the donation.

If the total amount of non-cash deductible donations for the year is more than $500, then a taxpayer must submit Form 8283.

For more information on charitable donations, visit IRS.gov and click on "Charities and Non-Profits" or visit your local tax preparer.