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By the U of A System Division of AgricultureDec. 18, 2015
LITTLE ROCK — From colleges and churches to food banks and foundations, the holiday
season is a time for charitable giving. And, although doing good is its own reward,
those donations can come in handy around tax season, said Laura Hendrix, assistant
professor of family and consumer science with the University of Arkansas System Division
“With the end of the holiday season comes the beginning of tax season,” she said.
“If you give to charity before the end of the year, those contributions can be tax-deductible.”
Specifically, charitable contributions can be claimed as itemized tax deductions.
This includes credit card charges made in 2015 and checks mailed by December 31. So
long as the transaction is completed by the end of the year, it counts, said Hendrix.
Individual consumers are responsible for the lion’s share of charitable giving every
Americans donated an estimated $358.38 billion to charity in 2014, with 72 percent
coming from individual donors, according to Giving USA 2015: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2014. The Giving USA Foundation, which advances philanthropy through research and education,
has published the report every year for the last 60 years.
Arkansas ranks among the top states in the country for individual giving, according
to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, an independent news organization serving philanthropic
interests. The Natural State, along with most of the South, shows a high “giving ratio” per county — the ratio of itemized charitable contributions to adjusted gross income.
For example, Pulaski County has a giving ratio of 4.18 percent, with the highest contributions
coming from low-income families. Households earning $25,000 or less per year showed
the highest giving ratio, a whopping 12.15 percent.
That’s a lot of tax-deductible donations, assuming the organization is eligible, said
“Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible,” she said. Check out
eligible charities at IRS Select Check and learn more about qualifying deductions
So, the organization is eligible and the donation has been made. Now what?
“Make sure you itemize,” said Hendrix. “You can only claim the deduction for charitable
donations if you itemize.” Tax filers can either itemize or take the standard deduction.
The standard deduction is $6,300 for single filers or $12,600 for married couples
filing jointly, unless the itemized deductions will be more than that.
“If your itemized total isn’t more than the standard deduction, you’ll pay more in
taxes,” she said.
Remember to keep a written record of any donations. These records are needed in order
to claim a deduction. This can be a cancelled check, bank statement or credit card
statement as long as it includes the name of the charity, the amount, and the date
of the contribution.
Donations of $250 or more require an acknowledgement from the charity. This also applies
to other types of donations, such as household items or clothing. Acknowledgements
must include a description of the items contributed. Special rules apply for donations
of vehicles, boats, and planes when the value is more than $500.
All this information is easiest to obtain when the donation is made. Organize and
store records and other tax-related paperwork in a safe place, and tax season will
be a little jollier.
“Give with all your heart, but use your head,” said Hendrix. “Tax season is almost
For more information about creating a spending plan, managing credit, building savings
and investing for the future, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com