January 2018

As we close out 2017, here are five important facts you need to know about the charitable gifts you make to SCFBC. This information comes from Richard Hammar, an attorney and CPA specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

Fact #1

"If I make a contribution in early January 2018, can I claim it on my 2017 taxes?"
No, charitable contributions must be claimed in the year in which they are made.

Fact #2

If I mail my contribution in December 2017, but it doesn't reach my church until January 2018, for which year should I claim it?
On your 2017 tax return. A check that is mailed to a charity is deductible in the year the check is mailed (and postmarked), even if it is received in the next year.

Fact #3

Can I deduct the value of volunteer work I do for the church?
No, the value of personal services is never deductible as a charitable contribution. However, non-reimbursed expenses you incur in performing services on behalf of a church or other charity may be deductible. For instance, on your 2017 tax form, you can use a "standard mileage rate" of 54 cents per mile to compute a deduction for any miles you drove in 2017 while performing services for your church. Be sure to maintain accurate records.

Fact #4

Is there any limit to the amount of my contributions I can deduct on my taxes?
Yes, a contribution deduction ordinarily cannot exceed 50% of a donor's adjusted gross income. However, donors who exceed these limits may be able to "carry over" their excess contributions and deduct them in future years.

Fact #5

I designated my contribution to the church benevolence fund. Is that deductible?

That depends. "Designated contributions" are those made to a church for a specified purpose. If the purpose is an approved project or program of the church, you can deduct the contribution (if you claim itemized deductions on Schedule A of your tax form). For example, if you designate $100 to "Bethlehem," then it is deductible.