Charity vs Standard Deductions

Today TaxMama hears from Anne in Minnesota, who wants to know, “Can an individual deduct charitable contributions and car donations on tax forms if unable to itemize deductions?”

Dear Anne,

You are giving away your age. Many, many years ago, in deepest, darkest memory, we used to be able to take charitable contributions deductions without itemizing.

But that benefit is long gone. It’s been simplified away.

So sorry to give you the bad news.

When you’re not already itemizing, charitable contributions tend to be wasted for tax purposes. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them – just don’t expect to get any rewards from Uncle Sam.

Sometimes, if the value of the car is high enough – and can be documented by paperwork from the charity who sold it, you may end up with enough of a donation so you can itemize. But it will generally just take you a few hundred dollars over the limit and open up the return to audit – of the donation.
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Personally, unless I were going to get at least a couple of thousand dollars over the standard deduction, I wouldn’t monkey with non-cash charitable contributions deductions, like vehicles.

Wish I had better news for you!

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about charitable contributions, and other tax issues, free.
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Where? Where else? At

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