We are all very aware of the damage and destruction that has occurred to Houston, TX and the surrounding areas due to Hurricane Harvey. Those of us who live in Florida are well aware of how a hurricane can and does affect the lives of those impacted by these storms. Sometimes the only help we can provide for those affected by the storm is by our financial support through donations. If you want to make a donation, please do so carefully. In today’s world of the internet, social media, email, telephone campaigns, there will be those scams to entice you to make a contribution. Many of these will try to impersonate a bona fide and reputable charity by using information so closely similar to that of the legitimate organization that you may be misled. Here are a couple of tips I suggest that you follow.
- Donate only to recognized charities (Red Cross and Salvation Army as examples) and be careful with similar sounding names and identities.
- Do NOT give out any personal information (financial or other) to anyone soliciting a contribution.
- Make the donation by check or a credit card so you will have documentation of your donation for tax purposes.
Donations made to a charity qualify as a tax deduction if you itemize your tax deductions and file Form 1040 Schedule A. Donations made to an individual are not tax deductible. There are substantiation requirements that you must meet in order to claim a tax deduction for charitable donations. All donations regardless of the amount must be documented. In addition, if you make a monetary contribution of $250 or more, you must get a timely acknowledgement of your gift in writing from the charity. If you make a gift other than cash (clothing or furniture as examples) of more than $500, you will need timely written acknowledgement of your gift from the charity and you will need to provide additional information on your tax return as to when you acquired the property and its cost. The value of your donation of clothing or furniture is based on what the charity is expected to sell the item for. You may have furniture that you paid $1,000 for and you would sell it for $600. However, the charity would sell it for $100. The amount of your tax-deductible donation is $100.