Your family members and closest friends might already be on your holiday shopping list, but when it comes to your community, what gift are you giving this year?
When you contribute to registered charities, a little giving can go a long way. Charitable contributions are tax deductible, so they’re good for your wallet and your soul. Here are a few tips for making the most of your charitable giving:
Make Cash Gifts to Causes you Care About
In order to claim a tax deduction for your charitable donations, it’s important to follow the IRS’s rules. For example, “if you donate more than $250 cash, the charity must acknowledge the gift in writing,” says Harrine Freeman, a financial consultant based in Washington, D.C. “If you donate less, you will need a receipt, canceled check or credit-card statement.”
Give Away Used Goods you No Longer Need
You can also donate possessions, such as used electronics, furniture, clothing and other items to shelters or charities like Goodwill, which will resell such goods and use the proceeds to fund programs that benefit the underprivileged. Even old cars can be donated to charity: Under IRS guidelines, your car may be eligible for a tax deduction of its “fair market value.”
Volunteer for Local Organizations
Your time is valuable to nonprofit organizations in your community. Search VolunteerMatch for local volunteering opportunities, such as gardening, cooking or helping at an animal shelter. Although you won’t get a tax receipt for your time, you may deduct any associated expenses, such as gas costs or the cost of supplies that you purchase for your volunteer work, says Freeman.
Whether you’re seeking a worthy charity that matches your values or you want to verify a charity’s nonprofit status, GuideStar can help you find the best places to give. No matter how you choose to contribute this season, you’re sure to get a little something in return.
GEICO is focused on giving back. Learn how our 28,000 associates contribute to their communities.
How do you give back at this time of year? Tell us about it below.
By Kathryn Hawkins