IRS Rules on Deducting Charitable Giving

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Every year people give away billions in money and items to charities. This giving helps people in need. There are tax benefits that can come with that giving. To help provide guidance on that giving, the IRS has guidelines. Here are the guidelines:

Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items

To be tax-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.

Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more that includes, among other things, a description of the items contributed. 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.

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Just Left a Face to Face IRS Audit

downloadToday I met with a friend and the IRS for a face to face audit of his 2011 personal and business taxes. The audit was at the IRS offices located at 290 Broadway in NYC. The meeting started at 11 am and ended at 1:30 pm. Again, he runs a business and they wanted an explanation of his business and his business expenses.

Here are the important takeaways from the audit:

* Don’t Panic

IRS employees are people too. Ours was pleasant and professional. She lives in Brooklyn, sends her son to a charter school and loves to garden. She even shared her skittles.

Her office neighbor’s ringtone of Lil Jon and Usher was pure comedy.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxBSyx85Kp8

* KEEP ALL YOUR RECEIPTS/INVOICES/CANCELLED CHECKS

That is the most important take away. The more receipts/invoices/cancelled checks you have, the less you need to worry about an audit (They don’t want bank statements).

This also goes for people who itemized deductions on Schedule A for charities and medical expenses.

* Be Organized

The more organized you are, the faster everything goes and the easier the process. Software is helpful in explaining expenses but receipts are what they really want. Scanners and folders are worth the investment.

* Be able to explain your business in detail

The IRS wants to make sure the expenses you claim make sense for the business.

* Respond to an audit as soon as possible

Again, having the receipts makes the process so much easier.

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