Charitable Deduction Basics

Charitable Deduction Basics

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

Certain charities have to depend on the private sector for funding, because the government is cutting back on the benefits they give charities. Charities must look for individuals and organizations, which makes it harder to stay in business. Since the potential repeal of the estate tax has radically decrease people giving money, and the rules are extremely convoluted, people are less inclined to give charitable donations.

  • Larger Contributions: With most donations you can deduct up to 50% of your adjusted gross income. Be careful, however, when you wait to give a large contribution once you retire. Keep in mind that the deduction can only be 50%,and you may want to spread the donation over a couple of years.
  • Automobile Donations: If you give your car to a charity, make sure to get a 1098C form from the charity. This form tells all the car information to the government. If the car is sold for less than what the charity claimed and they sell it for the real amount, you will not get the full deduction that you expected.
  • Tax ID Number: If you are giving a large contribution to a lesser-known charity, make sure it is truly deductible and get a legitimate tax ID number.
  • Volunteering: You cannot take any deductions for your time. If you travel and have expenses from that you can take some deductions, but even that is complicated.
  • Charity Event: Often tickets to charity events, such as balls and galas, will state that some of the costs may be tax deductible. The amount that is deductible depends on how much you receive out of what you paid. For example, if the event includes a dinner, then subtract the price of the dinner from the total cost of the ticket. Ask for a receipt detailing a breakdown of what you are paying for to find out how much you can deduct.
  • Political Campaigns: No deductions
The above is a summary of a radio show on MMFN Money Matters Financial Network, with host Gary Goldberg, of Gary Goldberg Planning Services, Inc. in Montebello, New York, and his guest Martin M. Shenkman, Esq. an estate planner in Paramus, New Jersey. Listen to the audio clip of this segment on Disclaimer: Law Made Easy Press® provides practical and legal, tax, estate and financial information for educational purposes only. The goal is to help you best work with your professionals to save costs, and to obtain better service and results as an informed consumer. There is no assurance that the laws or sample documents are current, that the forms will achieve the desired goal in all circumstances. Laws change frequently and vary from location. Therefore, you should always consult with a local attorney, accountant, or other expert.

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