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J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2013: For Preparing Your 2012 Tax Return by J.K. Lasser Institute

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14.1 Deductible Contributions

Charitable contributions are deductible only as itemized deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040. You may deduct donations to religious, charitable, educational, and other philanthropic organizations approved by the IRS to receive deductible contributions; see the listing later in this section. If you are unsure of the tax status of a philanthropy, ask the organization about its status, or check the IRS list of tax-exempt organizations (IRS Publication 78). Donations to the federal, state, and local government are also deductible.

Substantiating your 2012 donations.

Keep a cancelled check or receipt from the charity as proof of your donations. For donations of $250 or more, you need to obtain a written acknowledgment that notes any benefits or goods that you received in exchange (14.14).

For a donated car, other motor vehicle, boat, or airplane valued at over $500, you must obtain an acknowledgment on Form 1098-C (or equivalent substitute) that you must attach to your return (14.7).

Year-end donations.

You deduct donations on the tax return filed for the year in which you paid them in cash or property. A contribution by check is deductible in the year you give the check, even if it is cashed in the following year. A check mailed and dated on the last day of 2012 is deductible for 2012. A check postdated until 2013 is not deductible until 2013. A pledge or a note is not deductible until paid. Donations made through a credit card are deductible in the ...

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