Tax guide

Donating to a Church

Donating to your place of worship, like to any other qualified charity, can be tax deductible if the requirements are met. The most common deduction here is for cash donations. You can also deduct expenses for any volunteering or services you provided throughout the year. If you traveled as a representative of your church at a convention, you can deduct transportation, lodging, and meals.

Cash Donations

Typically, most people will make cash donations to their church. But if you plan to deduct the donation, you’ll need a record of the donation. That means using a check, credit or debit card, or electronic funds transfer. All of these leave behind a paper trail that you can use to substantiate your deduction. Making a one-time cash donation of $250 or more means you must get a receipt from the church. Otherwise, you won’t be able to deduct the donation.

Donating Goods

If you donate household goods or clothes in good condition, you may be able to deduct the fair market value of those items. Fair market value for most household items and clothes is what you would pay in a consignment or thrift store – not what you paid for the item new.

If you donate an item that’s not in “good” condition but worth over $500, get an appraisal for the item before you donate it. And as with cash, make sure you get a receipt for any one-time donation of items worth $250 or more.

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Deductible Charitable Expenses

If you’re a representative for a church at a convention, you can deduct transportation, lodging, and meals as a charitable deduction. However, if you’re traveling just as a church member and not a representative, the expenses are nondeductible.

If you’re a deacon in your church, you can deduct expenses, like vestments, books, and transportation required to serve as a deacon or deacon candidate.

Where to Claim Donations

Charitable donations are an itemized deduction, which you can enter on our Charitable Donations screen on your return.

For more information about deducting charitable donations, see IRS Publication 526.

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