Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rules Are Tighter on Deductions

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rules Are Tighter on Deductions

Article excerpt

Starting with returns for 1994 to be filed in 1995, the rules are much stricter for donations to churches, schools and other philanthropic organizations. These restrictions apply to any charitable contribution of $250 or more.

You need more than a canceled check to prove that you made a single donation of $250 or more. No deduction is allowable unless you obtain and keep for your records a receipt or written acknowledgment from the charity.

The charity does not have to use a specific form for the acknowledgment, which can be by letter, postcard or computer-generated form. Nor, for purposes of determining whether an acknowledgment is necessary, must the charity aggregate your contributions.

Let's suppose you make several donations of $200 each to your alma mater. The school is relieved of the need to send a written confirmation to you. It makes no difference that the aggregate amount greatly exceeds $250.

Caution: You do not have an unlimited time to obtain the confirmation, notes Davida G. Isaacson, director of planned giving for Thirteen/WNET in New York City.

There is a deadline; flunk it and you forfeit the deduction. You have until the filing due date (usually April 15, unless you obtain an automatic four-month filing extension to Aug. 15) for the Form 1040 for the year in which you made the contribution.

Translation: Under no circumstances does the law grant you the option to first find out whether the Internal Revenue Service computers bounce your return and, should that happen, then tell the charity to provide the confirmation.

Additional paperwork: Another stipulation kicks in when a charity gives any goods (say, books or vacation trips) or services (sessions with experts on interior decorating) in exchange for your contribution. The charity's acknowledgment has to include a good-faith estimate of the value of what you received. …

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