This chapter explains how to claim a deduction for your charitable contributions. It discusses the following topics.
- The types of organizations to which you can make deductible charitable contributions.
- The types of contributions you can deduct.
- How much you can deduct.
- What records you must keep.
- How to report your charitable contributions.
A charitable contribution is a donation or gift to, or for the use of, a qualified organization. It is voluntary and is made without getting, or expecting to get, anything of equal value. taxmap/pub17/p17-127.htm#en_us_publink100034099
To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A. The amount of your deduction may be limited if certain rules and limits explained in this chapter apply to you. The limits are explained in detail in Pub. 526.taxmap/pub17/p17-127.htm#TXMP7544a557
You may want to see:
Publication 526 Charitable Contributions 561 Determining the Value of Donated Property Form (and Instructions) Schedule A (Form 1040) : Itemized Deductions 8283: Noncash Charitable Contributionstaxmap/pub17/p17-127.htm#en_us_publink100034100
You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. Most organizations other than churches and governments must apply to the IRS to become a qualified organization. taxmap/pub17/p17-127.htm#en_us_publink1000284785
You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization, and most will be able to tell you. Or go to IRS.gov. Click on "Tools" and then on "Exempt Organizations Select Check" (IRS.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check
). This online tool will enable you to search for qualified organizations.
Generally, only the following types of organizations can be qualified organizations.
- A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation organized or created in or under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States (including Puerto Rico). It must, however, be organized and operated only for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. Certain organizations that foster national or international amateur sports competition also qualify.
- War veterans' organizations, including posts, auxiliaries, trusts, or foundations, organized in the United States or any of its possessions (including Puerto Rico).
- Domestic fraternal societies, orders, and associations operating under the lodge system. (Your contribution to this type of organization is deductible only if it is to be used solely for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.)
- Certain nonprofit cemetery companies or corporations. (Your contribution to this type of organization isn't deductible if it can be used for the care of a specific lot or mausoleum crypt.)
- The United States or any state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. possession (including Puerto Rico), a political subdivision of a state or U.S. possession, or an Indian tribal government or any of its subdivisions that perform substantial government functions. (Your contribution to this type of organization is only deductible if it is to be used solely for public purposes.)
The following list gives some examples of qualified organizations.
- Churches, a convention or association of churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations.
- Most nonprofit charitable organizations such as the American Red Cross and the United Way.
- Most nonprofit educational organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, colleges, and museums. This also includes nonprofit daycare centers that provide childcare to the general public if substantially all the childcare is provided to enable parents and guardians to be gainfully employed. However, if your contribution is a substitute for tuition or other enrollment fee, it isn't deductible as a charitable contribution, as explained later under Contributions You Can't Deduct.
- Nonprofit hospitals and medical research organizations.
- Utility company emergency energy programs, if the utility company is an agent for a charitable organization that assists individuals with emergency energy needs.
- Nonprofit volunteer fire companies.
- Nonprofit organizations that develop and maintain public parks and recreation facilities.
- Civil defense organizations.
Under income tax treaties with Canada, Israel, and Mexico, you may be able to deduct contributions to certain Canadian, Israeli, or Mexican charitable organizations. Generally, you must have income from sources in that country. For additional information on the deduction of contributions to Canadian charities, see Pub. 597, Information on the United States–Canada Income Tax Treaty. If you need more information on how to figure your contribution to Mexican and Israeli charities, see Pub. 526.