Today is Giving Tuesday, so today’s blog post focuses on ensuring that you are doing everything necessary to receive your charitable deduction, especially in light of a recent court decision. In a case that was decided just two weeks ago, the Tax Court found that a taxpayer could not take a deduction for contributions of more than $250 made to a charity either because the taxpayer did not receive a written acknowledgement from the charity or because the taxpayer did not have a contemporaneous acknowledgement.

We frequently advise charities on preparing written acknowledgements to be sent to donors. There are many charities that ensure that their donors are receiving these acknowledgements as soon as the donations are received. However, there are many smaller charities that may not be aware of this requirement or may fail to send the acknowledgement unless a donor requests it. Therefore, the donor must be informed and be sure to ask for an acknowledgement at the time of his or her donation.

When making a donation of more than $250, the donor should request a written acknowledgement from the organization that is on the organization’s letterhead and contains (1) the name of the organization, (2) the amount of the cash contribution, (3) a description of any non-cash contribution, (4) a statement that no goods or services were provided by the organization (if that was the case), and (5) a description and good-faith estimate of any services or goods received in return for a contribution.

The acknowledgment will be considered “contemporaneous” if received by the earlier of the date on which the donor actually files his or her federal income tax return for the year of the contribution or the due date of the return.