TurboTax FAQ
TurboTax FAQ
239 people found this useful

What Kinds of Charitable Donations Can I Deduct?

If you Itemize Deductions, donations to charity and non-profit organizations can count as tax deductions

Just be sure the donations you include on your tax return meet these IRS rules:

  • The donations you make must be to qualified organizations.
  • You must have documentation of your contributions.
  • Deductible expenses can include cash, non-cash items like clothing and household goods, and mileage driven on behalf of a qualified charity.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about charitable contributions.

What kinds of charities are qualified under IRS rules?

  • Public charities, such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, Red Cross, United Way, Boys/Girls Clubs of America
  • Religious organizations, such as churches, synagogues, temples and mosques
  • War veterans groups
  • Local, state and federal governments, if the contribution is for public purposes
  • Nonprofit hospitals, schools and fire departments
  • Public parks and recreation facilities

If you're not certain whether an organization qualifies, try using this IRS charity search tool, to look up organizations by name and location.

Are there limits on how much I can claim?

Yes. Contributions are limited to 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), and may be limited to 30% or 20% of your AGI, depending on what you donate and the type of charity you give it to. TurboTax will guide you through this process.

If these restrictions limit your write-off in the year of the gift, the excess deduction carries over to the next year.

Also, you can't write off a portion of a contribution if you get something in return. For example, if you buy a $50 ticket to a fundraising dinner at a church but the value of the dinner is $20, you can only deduct $30.

There's also a special rule for folks who donate to colleges and universities and receive the right to buy tickets to school athletic events: They can deduct 80 percent of their donations.

Other Questions about deductions

Can I deduct the time I spend working for a charity?

  • No. The value of your labor is not a tax deduction.
  • However, you can deduct other direct costs you have from helping out with the charity such as mileage or the cost of supplies.

Can I deduct charitable contributions from a prior tax year?

  • No, unless they are contributions carried over from a previous tax year due to income limitations.

Can I deduct donations to charities based outside of the United States?

  • Generally no, except that you can deduct certain donations to Canadian, Mexican, and Israeli charities if you meet requirements. Donations are deductible to:
    • Mexican charities if the organization meets certain IRS tests.
    • Certain Canadian charities and are limited by your income from Canadian sources.
    • Certain Israeli charities, but are limited to 25% of your income from Israeli sources.
  • You can contact the charity for more information on whether it meets certain tests and learn more about the details from the IRS in Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

To learn some important rules from the IRS about deducting charitable contributions on your tax return, see the video below.

Where do I Enter Donations in TurboTax?

If you've already gone through the step-by-step interview and want to jump directly to the entry screens for donations, follow these steps.

  1. Select Federal Taxes (Personal in the Home & Business edition).
    In Online TurboTax, click the bars at the upper left corner to show Federal Taxes on the selection list (Don't see the side menu on the left? Click here for help.)
  2. Select Deductions & Credits, and on the How Do You Want to Enter Your Deductions & Credits screen, click Explore on My Own.
  3. Scroll down the Your Deductions & Credits summary screen until you see the Charitable Donations group.
  4. Click on the Visit All button next to Charitable Donations. or select the category that applies to you.
  5. Follow the prompts.

Related Information: