The continuing battle over taxes and spending in Congress leaves many Americans wondering how much they’ll have to pay in taxes next April 15. But one thing is sure: You can only deduct charitable gifts made by the end of this year on your 2011 return.
Charities know that the holiday spirit of giving and year-end tax planning lead many Americans to make their donations in December. As a result, mailboxes often are stuffed with charitable solicitations as well as catalogs this time of year. We urge everyone to check out charities first at wisconsin.bbb.org to see if the organization meets our 20 Standards of Charity Accountability.
BBB tips that can help you make sure your donation will be used appropriately:
- If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.
- Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
- When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.
- Before donating used items make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and does more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.
In addition, we urge donors to seek professional advice if they are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions.