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Publication 17

Limits on Deductions(p163)

If your total contributions for the year are 20% or less of your adjusted gross income, you do not need to read this section. The limits discussed in this section do not apply to you.
The amount of your deduction for charitable contributions is limited to 50% of your adjusted gross income and may be limited to 30% or 20% of your adjusted gross income, depending on the type of property you give and the type of organization you give it to.
If your contributions are more than any of the limits that apply, see Carryovers, later.

50% Limit(p163)

This limit applies to the total of all charitable contributions you make during the year. This means that your deduction for charitable contributions cannot be more than 50% of your adjusted gross income for the year.
Generally, the 50% limit is the only limit that applies to gifts to organizations listed below under 50% limit organizations. But there is one exception. A special 30% limit also applies to these gifts if they are gifts of capital gain property for which you figure your deduction using fair market value without reduction for appreciation. (See Special 30% Limit for Capital Gain Property, later.)

50% limit organizations.(p163)

You can ask any organization whether it is a 50% limit organization and most will be able to tell you. Or you may check IRS Publication 78 or call the IRS at 1-877-829-5500 (TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059). The following is a partial list of the types of organizations that are 50% limit organizations.

30% Limit(p163)

A 30% limit applies to the following gifts. However, if these gifts are of capital gain property, they are subject to the 20% limit, described later, rather than the 30% limit.

Student living with you.(p164)

Amounts you spend on behalf of a student living with you are subject to the 30% limit. These amounts are considered a contribution for the use of a qualified organization. See Expenses Paid for Student Living With You, earlier.

Special 30% Limit for 
Capital Gain Property(p164)

A special 30% limit applies to gifts of capital gain property to 50% limit organizations. (For gifts of capital gain property to other organizations, see 20% Limit, later.) However, the special 30% limit does not apply when you choose to reduce the fair market value of the property by the amount that would have been long-term capital gain if you had sold the property. Instead, only the 50% limit applies.

Two separate 30% limits.(p164)

This special 30% limit for capital gain property is separate from the other 30% limit. Therefore, the deduction of a contribution subject to one 30% limit does not reduce the amount you can deduct for contributions subject to the other 30% limit. However, the total you deduct cannot be more than 50% of your adjusted gross income.


Your adjusted gross income is $50,000. During the year, you gave capital gain property with a fair market value of $15,000 to a 50% limit organization. You do not choose to reduce the property's fair market value by its appreciation in value. You also gave $10,000 cash to a qualified organization that is not a 50% limit organization. The $15,000 gift of property is subject to the special 30% limit. The $10,000 cash gift is subject to the other 30% limit. Both gifts are fully deductible because neither is more than the 30% limit that applies ($15,000 in each case) and together they are not more than the 50% limit ($25,000).
For more information, see the rules for electing the 50% limit for capital gain property under How To Figure Your Deduction When Limits Apply in Publication 526.

20% Limit(p164)

This limit applies to all gifts of capital gain property to or for the use of qualified organizations (other than gifts of capital gain property to 50% limit organizations).


You can carry over your contributions that you are not able to deduct in the current year because they exceed your adjusted-gross-income limits. You can deduct the excess in each of the next 5 years until it is used up, but not beyond that time. For more information, see Carryovers in Publication 526.