Legal definition of charitable contributions
Estate Taxes & Gift Taxes Legal Terminology

charitable contributions

A gift made by either a person or a legal entity to benefit charity.

To deduct any charitable donation of money, regardless of amount, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution.

Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card, and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

According to the IRS guidelines, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to people who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ).
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