Do I Need Receipts For Charity Donations?

For charity donations after 1993, a canceled check is no longer acceptable as documentation for individual donations of $250 or more. In order to be allowed to deduct these amounts, you must obtain a receipt from the charity that verifies your donation and provides a disclaimer that you did not receive any goods or services (other than incidental religious benefit) in return for your contribution.

This receipt must be obtained BEFORE you file your return for the year.

The requirement applies to individual donations of $250 or more only, not cumulative donations to one charity over the period of a year. However, if a single donation is split into multiple donations solely to avoid the receipt requirement, the Internal Revenue Service says that a receipt is still mandatory.

The receipt requirement applies to donations of cash and checks, and also to donations of property. Since it is not the responsibility of the charity to set a value on donations of property, the receipt should contain a "description" of what you gave, as well as the required disclaimer.

If you did receive something in exchange for your donation, the receipt must specify the value of the goods or services received in return. Your deductible contribution is limited to the amount in excess of the value received.

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