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WASHINGTON — Individuals and businesses making contributions to charity should keep in mind some key tax provisions that have taken effect in recent years, especially those affecting donations of clothing and household items and monetary donations.

Rules for Clothing and Household Items

To be deductible, clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return. Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens.

Guidelines for Monetary Donations

To deduct any charitable donation of money, regardless of amount, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, bank or credit union statements, and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.

Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.


To help taxpayers plan their holiday-season and year-end giving, the IRS offers the following additional reminders:

  • Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2012 count for 2012. This is true even if the credit card bill isn't paid until 2013. Also, checks count for 2012 as long as they are mailed in 2012.
  • Check that the organization is qualified. Only donations to qualified organizations are tax-deductible. Exempt Organization Select Check, a searchable online database available on, lists most organizations that are qualified to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations, even if they are not listed in the database.
  • For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2012 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
  • For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity's unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
  • The deduction for a motor vehicle, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C, or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor's tax return.
  • If the amount of a taxpayer's deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.
  • And, as always it's important to keep good records and receipts. has Additional information on charitable giving including:

TaxACT Free Federal and Deluxe include the guidance and tax forms to help maximize your deduction for charitable contributions.

Donation Assistant® in TaxACT Deluxe provides audit-backed values for nearly 1,300 commonly donated items. Watch a video demonstration of Donation Assistant.

After starting your TaxACT return, you can navigate to the section of the federal interview that covers charitable contributions by clicking on the "Federal Q&A" tab, selecting the "Itemized or Standard Deductions" link and then "Charitable contributions".

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Upcoming Tax Dates

October 10 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Columbus Day) - Details

October 11 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during September, report them to your employer - Details

October 13 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method (special September deposit rule).
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the period beginning September 12 and ending September 15.

October 14 — Regular method taxes (special September deposit rule).
Deposit the tax for the last 4 days of September.

October 17 — Individuals
If you have an automatic 6-month extension to file your income tax return for 2015, file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ and pay any tax, interest, and penalties due - Details

October 17 — Partnerships
Electing large partnerships: File a 2015 calendar year return (Form 1065-B). This due date applies only if you were given an additional 6-month extension - Details

October 17 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in September.

October 17 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in September.

October 26 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 15 days of September.

October 28 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days in October.

October 31 — Certain small employers
Deposit any undeposited tax if your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2016 but less than $2,500 for the third quarter.

October 31 — Federal unemployment tax
Deposit the tax owed through September if more than $500.

October 31 — Form 720 taxes.
File Form 720 for the third quarter of 2016.

October 31 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during September.

October 31 — Heavy highway vehicle tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in September.

View More Tax Dates