If a tax deduction is important to you:
Make sure the organization has a tax-deductible, “501(c)” status with the IRS. The IRS Web site has a searchable database of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
Make sure you get a receipt that shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax deductible.
IRS rules concerning receipts have changed significantly in recent years; be sure you understand them completely. Read them at www.irs.gov/charities/contributors.
If you’ve made a charitable donation to help with the Haiti earthquake relief efforts, but thought you’d have to wait until next year to claim it on your taxes, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.
"If your donation was made after Jan. 11 but before March 1, you can claim it on your 2009 tax return," IRS spokesman Mark Green said.
Generally, taxpayers have to wait until the next year’s tax season to claim yearly charitable donations. However, a special tax relief provision recently was enacted to allow taxpayers to claim donations to Haiti this year.
"The amount of money that Haiti has received has been mind-blowing. I’ve heard of one church that donated $800,000 by itself," Green said. "The good part about this provision is that it is still early in the tax season, so most taxpayers haven’t filed their taxes yet and can take advantage of the opportunity this year."
Eligible donations include those made by texting a special code to certain organizations.
If you have already filed your taxes, you can still claim your donation next year, Green said.
This provision only applies to monetary donations — not the donation of supplies or other items.
"The key thing to remember here is that this is only for taxpayers who itemize their returns," Green said. "As with all charitable donations, taxpayers need to keep good records of their contributions."
Additionally, the special provision only applies to contributions made to nonprofit organizations.
"If you are in doubt, ask for a copy of their 501(c)3 letter," Green said. "And be sure to obtain a receipt for your records."