Five Things to Know about Giving
As we close out 2019 and begin 2020, here are five important facts 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.
"If I make a contribution in early January 2020, can I claim it on my 2019 taxes?"
No, charitable contributions must be claimed in the year in which they are made.
If I mail my contribution in December 2019, but it doesn't reach my church until January 2020, for which year should I claim it?
On your 2019 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.
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 2019 tax form, you can use a "standard mileage rate" of 54 cents per mile to compute a deduction for any miles you drove in 2019 while performing services for your church. Be sure to maintain accurate records.
Is there a limit to the amount of 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.
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.