You can deduct cash gifts you made as charitable contributions if the gift was made to a qualified organization. Cash contributions include checks, debit/credit card charges, electronic transfers or amounts deducted from your paycheck. Some examples of qualified organizations are churches, nonprofits and government organizations. Donations to political organizations or candidates are not deductible.
To claim the deduction for the contribution, you must pay the contribution on or before December 31 of the tax year for which you want to take the deduction. This includes mailed contributions that have a postmark date of December 31. For example, if you mailed a $1,000 check to your church on December 31, 2017, you may be able to deduct that amount on your 2017 return. If you paid $500 to an organization on January 1, 2018, you can’t deduct that amount on your 2017 return. You’ll have to claim it on your 2018 return.
You must keep records of all cash contributions you make or you won’t be able to take a deduction. Some examples of documents to keep on hand are:
- A canceled check, a credit card or bank statement that shows the name of the organization, the date the contribution was made and the amount you contributed.
- A receipt (or a letter or other written communication) from the qualified organization showing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
- A copy of your pay stub showing the payroll deduction.
If you donated more than $250, you should receive a written acknowledgement of your contributions from the qualified organization.
If you are unsure whether the charity you donated to qualifies, use the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool to check.