You must keep records to prove the amount of the contributions you make during the year. The kind of records you must keep depends on the amount of your contributions and whether they are:
- Cash contributions,
- Noncash contributions, or
- Out-of-pocket expenses when donating your services
Below is a summary of what you need to have, but also refer to IRS Publication 526 for more detailed information.
Cash contributions include those paid by cash, check, electronic funds transfer, debit card, credit card, or payroll deduction.
You can't deduct a cash contribution, regardless of the amount, unless you keep one of the following:
- A bank record that shows the name of the qualified organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution. Bank records may include
a canceled check, a bank or credit union statement, or a credit card statement.
- 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.
- Payroll deduction records:
For a deduction for a cash contribution of $250 or more only if you have an acknowledgment of your contribution from the qualified organization or certain payroll deduction records.
For a contribution not made in cash, the records you must keep depend on whether your deduction for the contribution is:
- Less than $250,
- At least $250 but not more than $500,
- Over $500 but not more than $5,000, or
- Over $5,000.
Less than $250
If it’s impractical to get a receipt, you aren’t required to have one. An example would be dropping off donations at an unattended drop off. However, you should keep record of what you donated.
At Least $250, but not more than $500
For donations in this range, you must obtain a written acknowledgment from the organization regarding your contribution. You must have a separate acknowledgment for each contribution you made that was valued at $250 or more. The acknowledgment must meet certain conditions.
Over $500 but not more than $5,000
Must meet the requirements of number 2 above plus additional requirements.
You must meet the requirements of number 3 above, plus generally, you must also obtain a qualified written appraisal of the donated property from a qualified appraiser. See Deductions of More Than $5,000 in Pub. 561 for more information.