T-shirts and Calculators: Give the Gift of Charity
by Saima Uribe
As the holidays are quickly approaching, most of us are rushing out to the stores and doing some last minute shopping trying to buy gifts for our loved ones. The last thing anyone is thinking about is their taxes and the possible tax savings they can take advantage of before the end of the year. Well, let me help bring you back to reality and take this opportunity to both decrease your time in the stores and offer you a way to reduce your taxes at the same time. Taxpayers who give money or goods to charities by December 31, 2016 may be able to claim a deduction on their 2016 federal income tax return to reduce their taxes. The IRS has a website where you can check to see the list of all the eligible organizations that are tax-deductible. Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and government agencies are eligible to receive donations even if they are not listed in this database. Also, let me make it clear that only people who itemize using Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. All you need in order to provide proof of a monetary donation is a bank record or a written statement from the charity. For noncash charitable contributions, you will need to document the item donated, place donated to, and the fair market value of the item. Written acknowledgment from the charity must be obtained for all items worth $250 or more. Special rules apply to cars, boats, and other types of property donations. Always remember to keep good records and maybe instead of buying toys this year, you can make a gift to a charity on behalf of your loved ones instead. Happy Holidays!