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Year-End Donations/Tax Break

December 27, 2011, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

Year-End Donations/Tax Break
SIOUX FALLS, SD - 2011 may be winding down, but there's still time to get a tax break. Charities see a big boost in donations this final week of the year.

Whether they come from a troubled home, or they've been in trouble, McCrossan Boys Ranch is giving as many as 70 boys a chance for a better life through work, education and play.

"That donated money goes to support our programs. It may help chemical dependency programs, it may help the school; we have year-round schooling. It may just help with living expenses," said Christy Menning of McCrossan Boys Ranch

And the donations that come in the last two months of the year go for those expenses all year long.

"We see a lot of donations online on December 31. So, you can tell people are thinking 'I haven't done quite enough for my taxes this year.'" Menning said.

The easiest and most popular way to donate is with cash. But most non-profit organizations will also accept stocks or in-kind donations which range from clothing to event tickets, to vehicles. But any gift over $5,000 must be appraised to claim the deduction.

"The IRS has made it a little harder to donate vehicles.  But vehicles in good running condition, you will definitely get a nice tax advantage from," Menning said.

For retirees looking for ways to save on taxes, IRA rollover gifts have been extended through 2011.

"The IRA rollover provision gets passed pretty much every year lately. It was set in the poor economy to help charities out, to also help people looking to meet distribution out of their IRA," Menning said.

McCrossan also sees donors who want to claim the deduction for 2011, but pay the donation in 2012.

"We also see a lot of people doing credit card donations. You can make your credit card donation on December 31. A lot of people won't be billed until 2012, but they can still claim that tax deduction in 2011, even if they made that credit card donation on December 31," Menning said.

And another trend among charities is for donors to be more involved with how their money is being used.

"We see a lot of donors specifying what they want their donation to go to; maybe it's a building project, maybe it's recreation funds, maybe it's scholarships. A lot of people are taking a more active role these days in choosing exactly how they want their money to be spent," Menning said.

Also, when donating to a charity, make sure you check it out first. The links below can help you verify how the charity is spending its money.

Better Business Bureau: For Charities and Donors
Charity Navigator
Guide Star

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