Figuring Individual and Minister Taxes: Church Donation Tax Laws

Tis the time of year for charitable contributions for individuals, clergymen and churches, but how are charitable donations supposed to be accounted for in regards to taxes?  The IRS actually allows taxpayers to itemize their deductions to write off their donations to charitable organizations; however, the church or organization that is being donated to must meet IRS requirements.

In order to prevent people from taking advantage of this deduction they have created certain rules that govern the timing of donations, maximum allowable deductions and certain documentation is required.  When preparing individual as well as minister taxes, it’s important to speak with a tax professional to ensure that you’re taking all necessary measures when it comes to charitable donations. Here are some general tips.

Timeframe 

According to the IRS you can only claim a deduction during the year that you actually made the donation. Therefore if you make a cash or property donation, the donation must be made by Dec. 31 of that year in order to claim the deduction. If you pledge to make a certain donation for the year but only ended giving a portion of that amount, you can only claim the amount that you actually donated. When it comes to check or credit card donations, you must account for the donation during the year that you give to your charity of choice. Even if the check or charge doesn’t clear until the next year, if you send it in the mail or charge it to your card during the current year, it should be claimed for the prior tax year.

Amounts

In general, a deduction value is equal to the amount donated minus any tangible gifts you receive in return. Therefore, if you donated $300 to your church and received a  gift in return valued at $50, your deduction would be $450.

Proper Documentation

Clergy and non-clergy alike need to be able to show proof of donations in case an audit is warranted. For donations less than $250, a cancelled check or bank statement will suffice. If donations are larger, the church must provide a receipt documenting your donation. When it comes to property donations, the church must estimate the fair market value of your contribution and be able to show adequate documentation.

It is recommended that clergy acquire the help of clergy tax services to ensure that all tax issues, including charitable contributions are accounted for properly. Individuals that are not clergy are also encouraged to receive tax preparation help.

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Sarah Wozniak

Staff Writer, Page1 Online Marketing

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