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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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14.14 Records Needed To Substantiate Your Contributions

The type of records you must keep to substantiate your donations generally depends on their amount and whether you are contributing cash or property.

Cash contributions.

~ A deduction is not allowed for a cash contribution, regardless of amount, unless you have a receipt or bank record to substantiate it. This includes donations made by check, credit card, electronic fund transfer, or gift card redeemable for cash. You need a cancelled check, bank copy of both sides of a cancelled check, electronic fund transfer receipt, monthly account statement, credit card statement, or written receipt (including e-mail) that shows the name of the organization and the date and amount of the contribution. Maintaining a diary or log is not sufficient substantiation. If you volunteer your services to a charity, you need similar records to substantiate a deduction for your out-of-pocket expenses of under $250 (14.4).

For a contribution of $250 or more, a cancelled check or receipt showing the name of the organization and the date and amount of your contribution is not enough. You must timely obtain a written acknowledgment from the charity, as described below.

For a contribution made by payroll deduction, you need to keep a pay stub, Form W-2, or other employer-furnished document showing the amount withheld as a donation, along with a pledge card or similar document from the charity. If the amount withheld from a single paycheck is $250 or ...

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