March 23, 2018 | Posted in:

Charitable Donation Records: What you Need for Your 2017 Return

Alloy Silverstein’s Tax Tip of the week


If you contributed to charity in 2017, you can generally deduct the full amount on your tax return with one caveat: You must have the records to back up your claims in case the IRS comes calling. If you donated money, the documentation is fairly simple. But special rules apply if you donated property or you received benefits in return for your gift.

Monetary contributions

For monetary contributions, such as gifts by check or credit and debit card, you must have a bank record or written communication from a qualified charitable organization showing the:

  • Amount of the contribution
  • Date of the contribution
  • Name of the organization

Also, you must obtain a written acknowledgment from a charity for any gift of $250 or more.

Property contributions

Gifts of property often require extra tax return work. If the property increased in value from the day you purchased it and you’ve owned it for longer than a year, you can deduct the fair market value of the property on the date of the donation. Keep in mind, per Associate Partner Rich Middleton, CPA, “Donor advised funds for charity provide an opportunity for an immediate large deduction and the ability to spread out grants from the fund over time.”  Otherwise, your deduction is generally limited to what you paid for the item.

Donations of property valued above $500 require a description of the donated property attached to your return. If the gift is valued at more than $5,000, you’ll need to provide an independent appraiser’s summary.

“Gifts of publicly traded securities in excess of $5,000 will not need an appraisal,” says Rich. “This exception includes certain other securities as well.”

If you received benefits in return for your gift

Sometimes you may make a contribution and receive a benefit in return. With these “quid quo pro” contributions, you can deduct only the difference between the contribution amount and the value of the benefit. Suppose that you and your spouse attended a fundraising dinner that cost you $200 in total. The charity states that the meals were valued at $80, so your deduction is limited to $120 ($200 – $80 = $120).

See Also:

6 Tax Considerations for Charitable Contributions

How to Report Business Charitable Deductions

A Beautiful Tax Tip: Donating Art to Charity

Tax Benefits of Charitable Easements

Don’t miss out on claiming the charitable donations you’re entitled to deduct on your 2017 return — but be sure you have the proof you need. Give Alloy Silverstein a call if you have questions.

© MC 2018 | “Tax Tips” are published weekly to provide current tax information, tax-cutting suggestions, and tax reminders. The tax information contained in this site is of a general nature and should not be acted upon in your specific situation without further details and/or professional assistance.


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