5 Income Tax Deduction Tips for Charitable Donations

Stephen OvertonGiving to those in need makes us feel good and has the added benefit of reducing the amount of income taxes we have to pay. Using charitable donations to knock dollars off your tax bill is not always as easy as giving to your favorite charity. There are a few tips that will help you get the most out of the contributions you make this tax year.

Good Documentation

When it comes to the IRS, documentation is key. Keeping excellent records is essential to proving that you gave exactly the amount you claimed. Save any receipts, donation letters or thank you cards from the organizations to which you donated. If you donated clothing and household items to a charity shop, it is always a good idea to get photo documentation as well as a receipt. This can be used to confirm the value of your donation if the need ever arises.

Don’t Overlook Less Obvious Donations

When it comes to tax deductions, every dollar counts. Do not lose out on these deductions by neglecting to itemize the less obvious donations you make each year. When the cashier at the grocery store asks you to donate to their charity drive, save the receipt for a write off. When you donate your time to a charity, the time you spend is not deductible but any travel expenses you incur count toward your donations. You can also deduct any recurring donations you make from your paycheck or subscription donations from eligible charities.

Large Charitable Donations Require More Documentation

When you donate small value items or little sums of cash, receipts will suffice for proving the donation. When it comes to larger donations, be aware that they will come under more scrutiny and may require additional documentation. When a donation is above 250 dollars, the IRS requires detailed descriptions in addition to receipts, letters of acceptance and any relevant bank statements. A property donation of 5,000 dollars or more needs an appraisal completed by a professional.

Verify an Organization’s Tax Exempt Status

A costly mistake that taxpayers often make is contributing their cash or property to organizations that have not obtained tax exempt status. The IRS maintains a list of approved charities that are able to accept deductible donations. A charitable organization not on this list may accept donations, but you will be unable to legitimately itemize them on your taxes. Before you make a large contribution, ask to see their certification letter from the IRS. Of course you may still choose to donate to charities that do not retain tax exempt status, but be aware that they will not count toward your deductions.

Deduct the Value of Donation Gifts

Many charitable organizations will offer a gift as incentive for contributing cash. Taxpayers often overlook the need to deduct the value of the gift from the total donation. For example, if you make a small donation to your local public radio station, you must deduct the value of the branded tote bag you receive.

Local Nonprofits Collaborate for New East Tampa Housing Development, Beacon Homes

053872_27b48f47Neighborhood Lending Partners (NLP),  and Corporation to Develop Communities (CDC) of Tampa partnered to host an event on April 26, which announced the establishment of a housing fund for the construction of a new community of single-family houses in East Tampa.The development will be the future site of Beacon Homes.

The NLP, a which multi-bank lending institution providing financing to developers of affordable housing and community revitalization, announced the new Florida Minority Impact Housing Fund (FMIHF) at the event. The event, which was attending by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and one hundred others, also served as a groundbreaking for CDC of Tampa, will develop the land. CDC of Tampa is an organization that revitalizes neighborhoods, improves lives, and strengthens communities throughout Pinellas Counties and Hillsborough, granting access to affordable housing, youth programs, and job training and placement. CDC of Tampa bought the land from Tampa Housing Authority, which a development partner for this project.

“We’re thrilled to establish the Florida Minority Impact Housing Fund and know that Beacon Homes will be a wonderful addition to East Tampa and a vital part of the area’s revitalization efforts,” said Neighborhood Lending Partners President and CEO, Debra Reyes. “Quality, affordable housing should be available to all Florida residents and it is our goal to create those opportunities in as many communities as possible.”

The primary supporters of the $3million dollar FMIHF are Wells Fargo and Banks of America, which offers products and loan programs for the development of affordable housing. The FMIHF serves faith-based organizations, community development corporations, non-profit developers, and organizations, positively impacting minorities and other underserved communities throughout the state of Florida. The fund is a tremendous resource for nonprofit housing developers, allowing for more opportunities to further our redevelopment efforts in Hillsborough and East Tampa.

6 Quick and Easy Ways To Help Your Community

10959166933_c0fc035521_bIn today’s society, people are constantly busy. It is quite possible that you want to help your community out, but you just don’t have the time. But community service doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Sure, it would be great to volunteer for a few hours at the local soup kitchen or animal shelter, but if you don’t have the time, there are many fast and easy options. Here are a few ways that you can help your community by just taking a few minutes out of your schedule:

1)Pick up litter

Littering is all too common nowadays. Why not be a part of the solution? Take a walk through your neighborhood and bring a garbage bag along the way, picking up any litter you see. This is a great way to make your community a cleaner place while also getting some exercise.

2) Bring your leftover food to an elderly neighbor

Elderly neighbors, especially widowed ones, could use a little help. Why not bring your neighbor a meal one night? If you have a family of four, prepare enough food for five people and give some food to your neighbor. This will help you get to know your neighbors and build a positive community. According to the police, getting to know your neighbor is a great way to combat neighborhood crime. And who knows, maybe next time you can even invite your neighbor over for dinner.

3) Vote in local elections

Many people only vote once every four years in the presidential elections. But elections happen every year and there’s no reason to skip over the local ones. Do some research on the candidates in the local and state elections and vote every year. Having a say in your local officials will make you feel more connected to your community.

4) Write a letter to local elected officials

Local officials will work harder to make your community a better place if they know that you appreciate them. Why not pen them a letter thanking them for making beneficial decisions for your community. Your encouraging words will make an official’s day and push them to work harder for your community.

5) Attend local events and festivals

Many local events are fundraisers that have free admission. You may be wondering how you are helping out if it is free, but typically these fundraisers help non-profit organizations which make their money through sponsorships. This typically means that sponsors look at attendance numbers to decide how much to give. If you attend with your family, you will be increasing the number of people there, therefore increasing the amount that is donated give next year.

6) Shop at locally owned businesses

If you shop locally, you will encourage other people to do so as well. This promotes growth and increases the likelihood of new businesses opening in the area. And bonus: if you shop at locally owned businesses, you will probably save time and money.

Helping out your community doesn’t have to mean taking a large part out of your day to give back. There are so many little things that you and your family can do to help make your community a better place to live.