You have only a short time left to make tax-deductible charitable donations.
Giving brings good will, good feelings, and smiles during the holiday season. But when it comes to your taxes for 2010, donation of monetary gifts and merchandise gifts come with rules you should know about.
The clock is ticking. You have less than 48 hours to make charitable donations that could impact your 2010 taxes.
Contributions must be made to qualified organizations to be deductible. That's the IRS rule, but how do you know if an organization meets your criteria?
Anthony Giorgianni of Consumer Reports says "unless you're an accountant, it's very hard to see how a charity is spending its money, the good news here is there are charity watchdogs.”
Experts recommend watchdog organization including the Better Business Bureau, Wisegiving Alliance, Charity Navigator and the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Anthony says "and they can give you a good idea of whether a charity is spending its money on a charitable mission"
Monetary support made to individuals, political organizations and candidates is not deductible.
Financial experts stress that when making monetary donations, you should pay by credit card or check instead of cash and receipts are a must!
Christene Benz of Morningstar says "it's absolutely essential that you save proper documentation about what you've donated, so save any receipts that you received from the charity and if you've donated cash, make sure that you have a bank or credit card statement.”
If you're donating electronics, they must be in working order. Clothing and household items must be good condition or better to be deductible.
And remember, checks must be mailed and postmarked by end of the calendar year, and credit cards must be swiped in 2010, even if the bill isn't paid until next year.