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Ask the Experts

Charitable Giving Tax Break

You can claim a deduction on your federal tax returns, but only if you itemize your deductions

En español | Q. I've given to charities throughout the year. Can I get a tax break when I file my taxes next year?

A. You can claim a deduction on your federal tax returns for such contributions, but only if you itemize your deductions. If an individual gift is $250 or more, you'll need a receipt or an acknowledgement from the qualified organization. For lesser amounts, a bank statement or canceled check will do.

If you've contributed to a charity through your employer via payroll deductions, you'll need copies of certain payroll records.

What are qualified organizations? According to the Internal Revenue Service, they include nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable, educational or scientific.

To deduct your contributions, file federal tax form 1040 and itemize the deductions on your Schedule A. Certain rules and limits apply, so consult your tax adviser for details.

For more information on donations and qualifying organizations, visit this IRS webpage or call 1-800-829-1040.

Source: Philip Lee, certified financial planner, Back Bay Financial Group, Inc., Boston

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

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