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IRS Offers Tax Tips for 'Season of Giving'

Here are some 'Season of Giving' tips from the IRS covering everything from charity donations to refund planning.

December is traditionally a month for giving generously to charities, friends and family. But it’s also a time that can have a major impact on the tax return you’ll file in the New Year. Here are some “Season of Giving” tips from the IRS covering everything from charity donations to refund planning:

  • Contribute to Qualified Charities.  If you plan to take an itemized charitable deduction on your 2012 tax return, your donation must go to a qualified charity by Dec. 31. Ask the charity about its tax-exempt status. You can also visit IRS.gov and use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool to check if your favorite charity is a qualified charity. Donations charged to a credit card by Dec. 31 are deductible for 2012, even if you pay the bill in 2013. A gift by check also counts for 2012 as long as you mail it in December. Gifts given to individuals, whether to friends, family or strangers, are not deductible.

  • What You Can Deduct.  You generally can deduct your cash contributions and the fair market value of most property you donate to a qualified charity. Special rules apply to several types of donated property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.

  • Keep Records of All Donations.  You need to keep a record of any donations you deduct, regardless of the amount. You must have a written record of all cash contributions to claim a deduction. This may include a cancelled check, bank or credit card statement or payroll deduction record. You can also ask the charity for a written statement that shows the charity’s name, contribution date and amount.

  • Gather Records in a Safe Place.  As long as you’re gathering those records for your charitable contributions, it’s a good time to start rounding up documents you will need to file your tax return in 2013. This includes receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you will claim on your tax return. Be sure to store them in a safe place so you can easily access them later when you file your tax return.

  • Plan Ahead for Major Purchases.  If you are making major purchases during the holiday season, don’t base them solely on the expectation of receiving your tax refund before the bills arrive. Many factors can impact the timing of a tax refund. The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days after receiving a tax return. However, if your tax return requires additional review, it may take longer to receive your refund. 

For more information about contributions, check out Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. The booklet is available on IRS.gov or order by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Follow me on Twitter: @DianneIRS

 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Support & Defend December 13, 2012 at 05:42 AM
You need to read more carefully, and then I can only hope that you will also comprehend. I don't care what Jim wrote, since I was commenting on what YOU wrote. If you want me and others to interpret your words differently, then you need to learn to write much more clearly. Furthermore, I am not a "liberal", nor am I a "conservative". And as to Sean Penn, I have no idea what he likes or dislikes. To me he's merely an OK actor, and I don't take my political cues from him, and trust that no "liberals" or "conservatives" do either.
Support & Defend December 13, 2012 at 05:46 AM
By the way, parksloper, it looks like you need some serious anger management help. You are as obsessed as were many left wingers over Bush's reelection. Bush won and Kerry lost; so, my message to left wingers was "get over it". Obama won and Romney lost, so right wingers - and parksloper - get over it.
Goin' Commando December 13, 2012 at 05:54 AM
Oh S & P, you are a hopeless optimist if you think parksloper and the other screamin'-at-the-rain fanatics are going to ever get over it. They have no concept of the truth, and for them any lie about Obama is good because it reinforces their deep bias and unwillingness to get this country back to a center position. For the radical left, Obama is too soft on their issues. For the radical right, Obama is too hard on their issues. So each side trashes him to a certain extent, but the right wingnuts go way over the top and even make up stories about Obama (that some of them might actually believe, because they haven't read independent journalism in the last decade). But, it's nice to see somebody thinking they can make a difference with that crowd; just don 't be disappointed when they respond with their usual trash talk and lies. Good luck with your optimism.
Patti December 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Sorry Parkslopper; the worst president in history is GW Bush. He gets that trophy! Even Republicans agree.
Drtee-Dancer December 13, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Thank you Paul - you left out other disasters from this President such as the NATIONAL FREAKING DEBT , buts that's OK !!! 4 more years & we're down the drain. He won't be able to escape & blame it on someone else.
Drtee-Dancer December 13, 2012 at 08:20 PM
It really is sad - comparisons to other nations doesn't mean anything - if you think the USA is trending the right way you have no understanding of economics - also remember as you mention George Bush, the last 2 yrears of his Presidency the Congress was controlled bt Democrats. Please understand I'm not whinning - just looking at reality as we go down the drain. No talking points here.
Preliator December 13, 2012 at 08:20 PM
From Realclear politics: "For example, we’ve heard a great deal about President Obama’s demand that taxes go up for individuals earning $200,000 per year or families making more than $250,000. But under Obamacare, those families will already be hit with a 0.9 percent hike in the Medicare payroll tax on earnings over these thresholds starting January 1." The full article here: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/335398/regardless-you-ll-pay-more-michael-tanner#
Drtee-Dancer December 13, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Finally someone who understands !!!
Drtee-Dancer December 13, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I watch NBC, ABC & CBS news - never heard of Benghazi - is this something they failed to report on?
El Stinkeroo December 13, 2012 at 08:39 PM
El Stinkeroo doesn't post something unless its is factual. I should not have pity on your sorry self but I do. When people are willing to come on the Patch to defend the IRS, your worst enemy, against a well meaning warrior meant to help save you from your own stupidity its does deserve pity. But all great populations were brought down by those that would doubt the extent of the evil ruling class. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-nonprofit-groups-battle-over-charitable-deductions/2012/12/13/80e67400-43f2-11e2-9648-a2c323a991d6_story.html ...
Drtee-Dancer December 13, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Please be advised that GM needs to sell at $52.00 per share for taxpayers to get even - it currently sells at $25.00 per share plus all the bondholders who got screwed - here's hoping. It is true that many loans were payed back by the banks, however not to reduce the deficit but to be spent foolishly.
Drtee-Dancer December 13, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Nice assessment Paul !!!
John Gruber December 13, 2012 at 09:39 PM
"he was thrown out of Iraq. Illegally invaded Libya with the help of Al Qaeda. He lost Egypt and Turkey. Afghanistan is lost." So he was thrown out of a country that WE INVADED for sole purpose of bringing down a dictator who has been dead for years? how exactly did we lose Afghanistan when we killed the very man we invaded it for? I didn't realize we owned Egypt and Turkey either After what Bush did, how do you say Obama "illegally invaded" anything. How do you "illegally invade" a country anyway? also, Bush bailed out plenty of auto companies, but I bet you don't have a problem with that either? Do you have a problem with companies like Citi Bank using Bush-Bailout money to pay for naming rights to sports stadiums?
John Gruber December 13, 2012 at 09:41 PM
you lose all credibility when you end your argument with the suggestion we watch a propaganda movie. Next you'll be telling us to watch "Refer Madness"
John Gruber December 13, 2012 at 09:46 PM
If Obama invaded Libya illegally what exactly do you call what Bush did?
John Gruber December 13, 2012 at 09:48 PM
if you did any independent research you'd know that "apology tour" schtick was just a republican talking point. Romney's "jeeps made in china" quote on the other hand was deemed the "Lie of the Year" by politifact.com
John Gruber December 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
again, Romney's "jeeps made in china" gem was deemed completely false and the "lie of the year" over at politifact.com
John Gruber December 13, 2012 at 09:51 PM
as a Bush supporter, do you really want to bring up Presidents using drugs?
Sheldon December 14, 2012 at 01:33 PM
The TARP prgram was put into place in Oct 2008 under Bush. The AIG bail out was designed by Hank Paulson, under Bush. The GM bail out was started under Bush and continued under Obama where it was announced that all bond holders such as those retired people who used their life savings to supplement social security income would not get their money back. GM was, in fact, a managed bail out, as Romney had suggested it should be. GM was granted a TARP escrow account under Obama. It used those funds to pay back the original TARP. GM and Ally Bank, which is the old GM finance arm known as GMAC, still owe the government the original TARP funds and as Dancer has said, the stock must get to $52 to break-even. The large banks, most of which were forced to take the money under the original Paulson plan, have paid back with handsome profits. To her credit, Nancy Pelosi fought to get the domocratic votes needed to approve the Paulson plan but she later disavowed it because of public disapproval. The original plan was slated for $700 billion but was reduced to $400 billion under Dodd-Frank. Those are the facts. I am not sure why you are using the term "republitards" in your opening sentence. Obama campaigned against the original TARP which is exactly the part of TARP that is reaping profits for the government.
John Gruber December 14, 2012 at 03:59 PM
"is it a lie that he went to war in Libya without any consent from congress violating the war powers act?" Really? You just bashed Obama for "losing" Iraq and Afghanistan, 2 countries we invaded UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS as you just described
John Gruber December 16, 2012 at 02:42 AM
aside from the fact that we were after WMD's that didn't exist, just because Congress authorized it doesn't mean it didn't violate international law. In fact, the UN Secretary General believed it did in fact violate UN Resolutions and was illegal
Parksloper December 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM
"I don't care what Jim wrote, since I was commenting on what YOU wrote." For Christ sake, what I wrote was in response to what JIM wrote so your comment to me made no sense, like the rest of your rantings. Learn to comprehend what your read.
Parksloper December 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM
"By the way, parksloper, it looks like you need some serious anger management help." Take your own advice.
Parksloper December 16, 2012 at 08:23 PM
"aside from the fact that we were after WMD's that didn't exist," Democrat Quotes on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction: "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line." --President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998 "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." --President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998 "Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face." --Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998 "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983." --Sandy Berger, "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others, Oct. 9, 1998 http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
John Gruber December 16, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Those are all moot because none of those people actually invaded Iraq to get something that we nor any UN Inspectors could find. I personally have no problem with the decision to take down a violent murderous dictator, but the fact of the matter is the invasion: A) Was Based on something that turned out to be false to the best of our knowledge B) was Considered illegal by many members of the UN, including the Secretary General because they believed it breached international law "During the lead-up to war in March 2003, United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix had found no stockpiles of WMD and had made significant progress toward resolving open issues of disarmament" "U.S.-led inspections agreed that Iraq had earlier abandoned its WMD programs" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction
Jim December 18, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Parksloper you are truly an idiot. Businesses DO NOT file individual or married filing joint tax return (1040). They file a completely different type of return with rates different than an individual. The only way there are taxed as an individual is if they have their business set up as a sole proprietership - and they deserve to be taxed heavily if they are that stupid (or rely on accountants that are that stupid) to let them organize their business as such.
Parksloper December 20, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Ever hear of Wikileaks John? Yes, there is life outside the UN. “In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base… In the summer of 2008, according to one WikiLeaked report, American troops found at least 10 rounds that tested positive for chemical agents. “These rounds were most likely left over from the [Saddam]-era regime.” Even late in the war, WMDs were still being unearthed. In the summer of 2008, according to one WikiLeaked report, American troops found at least 10 rounds that tested positive for chemical agents. “These rounds were most likely left over from the [Saddam]-era regime. Based on location, these rounds may be an AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] cache. However, the rounds were all total disrepair and did not appear to have been moved for a long time.” Deadly Nerve Agent Sarin Is Found in Roadside Bomb http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33082-2004May17.html
Parksloper December 20, 2012 at 01:47 AM
And Hans Blix was a liar: A REPORT declassified by the United Nations yesterday contained a hidden bombshell with the revelation that inspectors have recently discovered an undeclared Iraqi drone with a wingspan of 7.45m, suggesting an illegal range that could threaten Iraq’s neighbours with chemical and biological weapons. US officials were outraged that Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, did not inform the Security Council about the drone http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/article1970568.ece Who will you quote next John, Baghdad Bob?
John Gruber December 20, 2012 at 05:57 AM
considering you're quoting a man whom women claim they were sexually assaulted by him and any news source owned by Rupert Murdoch I'd say Baghdad Bob is probably more credible than either. Shall I read you a quote from the secretary general that says the same thing? And it appears you can't even read your own articles. "But weapons experts cautioned that the shell appeared to predate the 1991 Persian Gulf War and did not necessarily mean that Hussein possessed hidden stockpiles of chemical munitions." Aside from the fact I can't find ANY news source that ISN'T owned by Rupert Murdoch (thetimes.co.uk is) to verify that chemical drone, NO CHEMICAL WEAPONS were found on it.
John Gruber December 20, 2012 at 05:59 AM
considering you're quoting a man who has multiple sexual assault allegations against him and any news source owned by Rupert Murdoch, I'd say Baghdad Bob is probably more credible than either. Shall I read you a quote from the secretary general that says the same thing? And it appears you can't even read your own articles. "But weapons experts cautioned that the shell appeared to predate the 1991 Persian Gulf War and did not necessarily mean that Hussein possessed hidden stockpiles of chemical munitions." Aside from the fact I can't find ANY news source that ISN'T owned by Rupert Murdoch (thetimes.co.uk is) to verify that chemical drone, NO CHEMICAL WEAPONS were found on it.

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