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IRS.gov Website
Publication 526
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229831

Records To Keep(p18)

rule
You must keep records to prove the amount of the contributions you make during the year. The kind of records you must keep depends on the amount of your contributions and whether they are:
Note.An organization generally must give you a written statement if it receives a payment from you that is more than $75 and is partly a contribution and partly for goods or services. (See Contributions From Which You Benefit under Contributions You Can Deduct, earlier.) Keep the statement for your records. It may satisfy all or part of the recordkeeping requirements explained in the following discussions.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229833

Cash Contributions(p18)

rule
Cash contributions include those paid by cash, check, electronic funds transfer, debit card, credit card, or payroll deduction.
You cannot deduct a cash contribution, regardless of the amount, unless you keep one of the following.
  1. A bank record that shows the name of the qualified organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution. Bank records may include:
    1. A canceled check,
    2. A bank or credit union statement, or
    3. A credit card statement.
  2. A receipt (or a letter or other written communication) from the qualified organization showing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
  3. The payroll deduction records described next.
In the case of a cash contribution made for the relief of victims of the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, a telephone bill qualifies as a receipt in (2) above if it shows the name of the organization and the date and amount of the contribution. However, if you made that contribution after January 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, and deducted it on your 2009 return, you cannot deduct it on your 2010 return.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229834

Payroll deductions.(p18)

rule
If you make a contribution by payroll deduction, you must keep:
  1. A pay stub, Form W-2, or other document furnished by your employer that shows the date and amount of the contribution, and
  2. A pledge card or other document prepared by or for the qualified organization that shows the name of the organization.
If your employer withheld $250 or more from a single paycheck, see Contributions of $250 or More, next.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229835

Contributions of $250 or More(p18)

rule
You can claim a deduction for a contribution of $250 or more only if you have an acknowledgment of your contribution from the qualified organization or certain payroll deduction records.
If you made more than one contribution of $250 or more, you must have either a separate acknowledgment for each or one acknowledgment that lists each contribution and the date of each contribution and shows your total contributions.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229836

Amount of contribution.(p18)

rule
In figuring whether your contribution is $250 or more, do not combine separate contributions. For example, if you gave your church $25 each week, your weekly payments do not have to be combined. Each payment is a separate contribution.
If contributions are made by payroll deduction, the deduction from each paycheck is treated as a separate contribution.
If you made a payment that is partly for goods and services, as described earlier under Contributions From Which You Benefit, your contribution is the amount of the payment that is more than the value of the goods and services.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229837

Acknowledgment.(p18)

rule
The acknowledgment must meet these tests.
  1. It must be written.
  2. It must include:
    1. The amount of cash you contributed,
    2. Whether the qualified organization gave you any goods or services as a result of your contribution (other than certain token items and membership benefits),
    3. A description and good faith estimate of the value of any goods or services described in (b) (other than intangible religious benefits), and
    4. A statement that the only benefit you received was an intangible religious benefit, if that was the case. The acknowledgment does not need to describe or estimate the value of an intangible religious benefit. An intangible religious benefit is a benefit that generally is not sold in commercial transactions outside a donative (gift) context. An example is admission to a religious ceremony.
  3. You must get it on or before the earlier of:
    1. The date you file your return for the year you make the contribution, or
    2. The due date, including extensions, for filing the return.
If the acknowledgment does not show the date of the contribution, you must also have a bank record or receipt, as described earlier, that does show the date of the contribution. If the acknowledgment does show the date of the contribution and meets the other tests just described, you do not need any other records.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229838

Payroll deductions.(p19)

rule
If you make a contribution by payroll deduction and your employer withheld $250 or more from a single paycheck, you must keep:
  1. A pay stub, Form W-2, or other document furnished by your employer that shows the amount withheld as a contribution, and
  2. A pledge card or other document prepared by or for the qualified organization that shows the name of the organization and states the organization does not provide goods or services in return for any contribution made to it by payroll deduction.
A single pledge card may be kept for all contributions made by payroll deduction regardless of amount as long as it contains all the required information.
If the pay stub, Form W-2, pledge card, or other document does not show the date of the contribution, you must also have another document that does show the date of the contribution. If the pay stub, Form W-2, pledge card, or other document does show the date of the contribution, you do not need any other records except those just described in (1) and (2).
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229839

Noncash Contributions(p19)

rule
For a contribution not made in cash, the records you must keep depend on whether your deduction for the contribution is:
  1. Less than $250,
  2. At least $250 but not more than $500,
  3. Over $500 but not more than $5,000, or
  4. Over $5,000.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229840

Amount of deduction.(p19)

rule
In figuring whether your deduction is $500 or more, combine your claimed deductions for all similar items of property donated to any charitable organization during the year.
If you got goods or services in return, as described earlier in Contributions From Which You Benefit, reduce your contribution by the value of those goods or services. If you figure your deduction by reducing the fair market value of the donated property by its appreciation, as described earlier in Giving Property That Has Increased in Value, your contribution is the reduced amount.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229841

Deductions of Less Than $250(p19)

rule
If you make any noncash contribution, you must get and keep a receipt from the charitable organization showing:
  1. The name of the charitable organization,
  2. The date and location of the charitable contribution, and
  3. A reasonably detailed description of the property.
A letter or other written communication from the charitable organization acknowledging receipt of the contribution and containing the information in (1), (2), and (3) will serve as a receipt.
You are not required to have a receipt where it is impractical to get one (for example, if you leave property at a charity's unattended drop site).
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229842

Additional records.(p19)

rule
You must also keep reliable written records for each item of donated property. Your written records must include the following information.
  1. The name and address of the organization to which you contributed.
  2. The date and location of the contribution.
  3. A description of the property in detail reasonable under the circumstances. For a security, keep the name of the issuer, the type of security, and whether it is regularly traded on a stock exchange or in an over-the-counter market.
  4. The fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution and how you figured the fair market value. If it was determined by appraisal, you should also keep a copy of the signed appraisal.
  5. The cost or other basis of the property if you must reduce its fair market value by appreciation. Your records should also include the amount of the reduction and how you figured it. If you choose the 50% limit instead of the special 30% limit on certain capital gain property (discussed under Capital gain property election, earlier), you must keep a record showing the years for which you made the choice, contributions for the current year to which the choice applies, and carryovers from preceding years to which the choice applies.
  6. The amount you claim as a deduction for the tax year as a result of the contribution, if you contribute less than your entire interest in the property during the tax year. Your records must include the amount you claimed as a deduction in any earlier years for contributions of other interests in this property. They must also include the name and address of each organization to which you contributed the other interests, the place where any such tangible property is located or kept, and the name of any person in possession of the property, other than the organization to which you contributed.
  7. The terms of any conditions attached to the gift of property.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229843

Deductions of At Least $250 
But Not More Than $500(p19)

rule
If you claim a deduction of at least $250 but not more than $500 for a noncash charitable contribution, you must get and keep an acknowledgment of your contribution from the qualified organization. If you made more than one contribution of $250 or more, you must have either a separate acknowledgment for each or one acknowledgment that shows your total contributions.
The acknowledgment must contain the information in items (1) through (3) listed under Deductions of Less Than $250, earlier, and your written records must include the information listed in that discussion under Additional records.
The acknowledgment must also meet these tests.
  1. It must be written.
  2. It must include:
    1. A description (but not necessarily the value) of any property you contributed,
    2. Whether the qualified organization gave you any goods or services as a result of your contribution (other than certain token items and membership benefits), and
    3. A description and good faith estimate of the value of any goods or services described in (b). If the only benefit you received was an intangible religious benefit (such as admission to a religious ceremony) that generally is not sold in a commercial transaction outside the donative context, the acknowledgment must say so and does not need to describe or estimate the value of the benefit.
  3. You must get it on or before the earlier of:
    1. The date you file your return for the year you make the contribution, or
    2. The due date, including extensions, for filing the return.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229844

Deductions Over $500  
But Not Over $5,000(p19)

rule
If you claim a deduction over $500 but not over $5,000 for a noncash charitable contribution, you must have the acknowledgment and written records described under Deductions of At Least $250 But Not More Than $500. Your records must also include: If you are not able to provide information on either the date you got the property or the cost basis of the property and you have a reasonable cause for not being able to provide this information, attach a statement of explanation to your return.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229845

Deductions Over $5,000(p20)

rule
If you claim a deduction of over $5,000 for a charitable contribution of one property item or a group of similar property items, you must have the acknowledgment and the written records described under Deductions Over $500 But Not Over $5,000. In figuring whether your deduction is over $5,000, combine your claimed deductions for all similar items donated to any charitable organization during the year.
Generally, you must also obtain a qualified written appraisal of the donated property from a qualified appraiser. See Deductions of More Than $5,000 in Publication 561 for more information.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000254825

Qualified Conservation Contribution(p20)

rule
If the gift was a "qualified conservation contribution," your records must also include the fair market value of the underlying property before and after the gift and the conservation purpose furthered by the gift.
For more information see Qualified Conservation Contribution, earlier, and in Publication 561.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229847

Out-of-Pocket Expenses(p20)

rule
If you render services to a qualified organization and have unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses related to those services, the following three rules apply.
  1. You must have adequate records to prove the amount of the expenses.
  2. You must get an acknowledgment from the qualified organization that contains:
    1. A description of the services you provided,
    2. A statement of whether or not the organization provided you any goods or services to reimburse you for the expenses you incurred,
    3. A description and a good faith estimate of the value of any goods or services (other than intangible religious benefits) provided to reimburse you, and
    4. A statement that the only benefit you received was an intangible religious benefit, if that was the case. The acknowledgment does not need to describe or estimate the value of an intangible religious benefit (defined earlier under Acknowledgment).
  3. You must get the acknowledgment on or before the earlier of:
    1. The date you file your return for the year you make the contribution, or
    2. The due date, including extensions, for filing the return.
taxmap/pubs/p526-006.htm#en_us_publink1000229848

Car expenses.(p20)

rule
If you claim expenses directly related to use of your car in giving services to a qualified organization, you must keep reliable written records of your expenses. Whether your records are considered reliable depends on all the facts and circumstances. Generally, they may be considered reliable if you made them regularly and at or near the time you had the expenses.
Your records must show the name of the organization you were serving and the date each time you used your car for a charitable purpose. If you use the standard mileage rate of 14 cents a mile, your records must show the miles you drove your car for the charitable purpose. If you deduct your actual expenses, your records must show the costs of operating the car that are directly related to a charitable purpose.
See Car expenses under Out-of-Pocket Expenses in Giving Services, earlier, for the expenses you can deduct.