Chapter 25

What’s New

Expired provisions. The following provisions have expired and will not apply for 2014:

  • The special 50% contribution limit for qualified conservation contributions.
  • The special 100% contribution limit for qualified conservation contributions made by a qualified farmer or rancher.
  • The adjustment to an S corporation shareholder’s stock basis for charitable contributions of property.
  • The exclusion from income of qualified charitable distributions made from IRA accounts.

This chapter explains how to claim a deduction for your charitable contributions. It discusses the following topics.

  • The types of organizations to which you can make deductible charitable contributions.
  • The types of contributions you can deduct.
  • How much you can deduct.
  • What records you must keep.
  • How to report your charitable contributions.

A charitable contribution is a donation or gift to, or for the use of, a qualified organization. It is voluntary and is made without getting, or expecting to get, anything of equal value.

Form 1040 required. To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A. The amount of your deduction may be limited if certain rules and limits explained in this chapter apply to you. The limits are explained in detail in Publication 526.

Useful Items

You may want to See:


  •  526 Charitable Contributions
  •  561 Determining the Value of Donated Property

Form (and Instructions)

  •  Schedule A (Form 1040) Itemized Deductions
  •  8283 Noncash Charitable Contributions

Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions

You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. Most organizations other than churches and governments must apply to the IRS to become a qualified organization.

How to check whether an organization can receive deductible charitable contributions. You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization, and most will be able to tell you. Or go to Click on “Tools” and then on “Exempt Organizations Select Check” ( This online tool will enable you to search for qualified organizations. You can also call the IRS to find out if an organization is qualified. Call 1-877-829-5500. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and who have access to TTY/TDD equipment can call 1-800-829-4059. Deaf or hard of hearing individuals can also contact the IRS through relay services such as the Federal Relay Service at

Types of Qualified Organizations

Generally, only the following types of organizations can be qualified organizations.

  1. A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation organized or created in or under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States (including Puerto Rico). It must, however, be organized and operated only for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. Certain organizations that foster national or international amateur sports competition also qualify.
  2. War veterans’ organizations, including posts, auxiliaries, trusts, or foundations, organized in the United States or any of its possessions (including Puerto Rico).
  3. Domestic fraternal societies, orders, and associations operating under the lodge system. (Your contribution to this type of organization is deductible only if it is to be used solely for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.)
  4. Certain nonprofit cemetery companies or corporations. (Your contribution to this type of organization is not deductible if it can be used for the care of a specific lot or mausoleum crypt.)
  5. The United States or any state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. possession (including Puerto Rico), a political subdivision of a state or U.S. possession, or an Indian tribal government or any of its subdivisions that perform substantial government functions. (Your contribution to this type of organization is only deductible if it is to be used solely for public purposes.)

Examples. The following list gives some examples of qualified organizations.

Certain foreign charitable organizations. Under income tax treaties with Canada, Israel, and Mexico, you may be able to deduct contributions to certain Canadian, Israeli, or Mexican charitable organizations. Generally, you must have income from sources in that country. For additional information on the deduction of contributions to Canadian charities, See Publication 597, Information on the United States–Canada Income Tax Treaty. If you need more information on how to figure your contribution to Mexican and Israeli charities, See Publication 526.

Contributions You Can Deduct

Generally, you can deduct contributions of money or property you make to, or for the use of, a qualified organization. A contribution is “for the use of” a qualified organization when it is held in a legally enforceable trust for the qualified organization or in a similar legal arrangement. The contributions must be made to a qualified organization and not set aside for use by a specific person.

If you give property to a qualified organization, you generally can deduct the fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution. See Contributions of Property, later in this chapter.

Your deduction for charitable contributions generally cannot be more than 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), but in some cases 20% and 30% limits may apply. See Limits on Deductions, later.

In addition, the total of your charitable contribution deduction and certain other itemized deductions may be limited. See chapter 30.

Table 25-1 gives examples of contributions you can and cannot deduct.

Table 25-1. Examples of Charitable Contributions—A Quick Check

Use the following lists for a quick check of whether you can deduct a contribution. See the rest of this chapter for more information and additional rules and limits that may apply.
Deductible As Charitable Contributions Not Deductible As Charitable Contributions
Money or property you give to:

  • Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other religious organizations
  • Federal, state, and local governments, if your contribution is solely for public purposes (for example, a gift to reduce the public debt or maintain a public park)
  • Nonprofit schools and hospitals
  • The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, CARE, Goodwill Industries, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, etc.
  • War veterans groups
  • Expenses paid for a student living with you, sponsored by a qualified organization
  • Out-of-pocket expenses when you serve a qualified organization as a volunteer
Money or property you give to:

  • Civic leagues, social and sports clubs, labor unions, and chambers of commerce
  • Foreign organizations (except certain Canadian, Israeli, and Mexican charities)
  • Groups that are run for personal profit
  • Groups whose purpose is to lobby for law changes
  • Homeowners’ associations
  • Individuals
  • Political groups or candidates for public office
  • Cost of raffle, bingo, or lottery tickets
  • Dues, fees, or bills paid to country clubs, lodges, fraternal orders, or similar groups
  • Tuition
  • Value of your time or services
  • Value of blood given to a blood bank

Contributions From Which You Benefit

If you receive a benefit as a result of making a contribution to a qualified organization, you can deduct only the amount of your contribution that is more than the value of the benefit you receive. Also See Contributions From Which You Benefit under Contributions You Cannot Deduct, later.

If you pay more than fair market value to a qualified organization for goods or services, the excess may be a charitable contribution. For the excess amount to qualify, you must pay it with the intent to make a charitable contribution.

Example 1. You pay $65 for a ticket to a dinner-dance at a church. Your entire $65 payment goes to the church. The ticket to the dinner-dance has a fair market value of $25. When you buy your ticket, you know that its value is less than your payment. To figure the amount of your charitable contribution, subtract the value of the benefit you receive ($25) from your total payment ($65). You can deduct $40 as a contribution to the church.

Example 2. At a fundraising auction conducted by a charity, you pay $600 for a week’s stay at a beach house. The amount you pay is no more than the fair rental value. You have not made a deductible charitable contribution.

Athletic events. If you make a payment to, or for the benefit of, a college or university and, as a result, you receive the right to buy tickets to an athletic event in the athletic stadium of the college or university, you can deduct 80% of the payment as a charitable contribution.

If any part of your payment is for tickets (rather than the right to buy tickets), that part is not deductible. Subtract the price of the tickets from your payment. You can deduct 80% of the remaining amount as a charitable contribution.

Example 1. You pay $300 a year for membership in a university’s athletic scholarship program. The only benefit of membership is that you have the right to buy one season ticket for a seat in a designated area of the stadium at the university’s home football games. You can deduct $240 (80% of $300) as a charitable contribution.

Example 2. The facts are the same as in Example 1 except your $300 payment includes the purchase of one season ticket for the stated ticket price of $120. You must subtract the usual price of a ticket ($120) from your $300 payment. The result is $180. Your deductible charitable contribution is $144 (80% of $180).

Charity benefit events. If you pay a qualified organization more than fair market value for the right to attend a charity ball, banquet, show, sporting event, or other benefit event, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the privileges or other benefits you receive.

If there is an established charge for the event, that charge is the value of your benefit. If there is no established charge, the reasonable value of the right to attend the event is the value of your benefit. Whether you use the tickets or other privileges has no effect on the amount you can deduct. However, if you return the ticket to the qualified organization for resale, you can deduct the entire amount you paid for the ticket.

Example. You pay $40 to See a special showing of a movie for the benefit of a qualified organization. Printed on the ticket is “Contribution—$40.” If the regular price for the movie is $8, your contribution is $32 ($40 payment – $8 regular price).

Membership fees or dues. You may be able to deduct membership fees or dues you pay to a qualified organization. However, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the benefits you receive.

You cannot deduct dues, fees, or assessments paid to country clubs and other social organizations. They are not qualified organizations.

Certain membership benefits can be disregarded. Both you and the organization can disregard the following membership benefits if you receive them in return for an annual payment of $75 or less.

  1. Any rights or privileges, other than those discussed under Athletic events, earlier, that you can use frequently while you are a member, such as:

    1. Free or discounted admission to the organization’s facilities or events,
    2. Free or discounted parking,
    3. Preferred access to goods or services, and
    4. Discounts on the purchase of goods and services.

  2. Admission, while you are a member, to events open only to members of the organization, if the organization reasonably projects that the cost per person (excluding any allocated overhead) is not more than $10.20.

Token items. You do not have to reduce your contribution by the value of any benefit you receive if both of the following are true.

  1. You receive only a small item or other benefit of token value.
  2. The qualified organization correctly determines that the value of the item or benefit you received is not substantial and informs you that you can deduct your payment in full.

Written statement. A qualified organization must give you a written statement if you make a payment of more than $75 that is partly a contribution and partly for goods or services. The statement must say that you can deduct only the amount of your payment that is more than the value of the goods or services you received. It must also give you a good faith estimate of the value of those goods or services.

The organization can give you the statement either when it solicits or when it receives the payment from you.

Exception. An organization will not have to give you this statement if one of the following is true.

  1. The organization is:

    1. A governmental organization described in (5) under Types of Qualified Organizations, earlier, or
    2. An organization formed only for religious purposes, and the only benefit you receive is an intangible religious benefit (such as admission to a religious ceremony) that generally is not sold in commercial transactions outside the donative context.

  2. You receive only items whose value is not substantial as described under Token items, earlier.
  3. You receive only membership benefits that can be disregarded, as described earlier.

Expenses Paid for Student Living With You

You may be able to deduct some expenses of having a student live with you. You can deduct qualifying expenses for a foreign or American student who: