Donors must substantiate individual cash contributions of $250 or more “by a contemporaneous written acknowledgment of the contribution by the donee organization.” Donors cannot substantiate individual cash contributions of $250 or more with canceled checks. They must receive a written acknowledgment from the church or other charity.
To avoid jeopardizing the tax deductibility of charitable contributions, churches should advise donors at the end of 2015 not to file their 2015 income tax returns until they have received a written acknowledgment of their contributions from the church. This communication should be in writing. To illustrate, the following statement could be placed in the church bulletin or newsletter for the last few weeks of 2015 or included in a letter to members:
IMPORTANT NOTICE: To ensure the deductibility of your church contributions, please do not file your 2015 income tax return until you have received a written acknowledgment of your contributions from the church. You may lose a deduction for some contributions if you file your tax return before receiving a written acknowledgment of your contributions from the church.
Keep your congregation informed about the rules for substantiating charitable contributions by ordering the 2016 Charitable Contributions Bulletin Insertsby Richard Hammar. The insert is designed as a one-page summary explaining the rules of most importance to church members and can fit easily in church bulletins, newsletters, or contribution statements.
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