Last chance for charity deductions; IRS warns of tornado relief scams

People should take advantage of deductions for charitable giving before the benefit goes away at the end of the year, the Internal Revenue Service said Monday. But people should also be wary of scammers posing as charities particularly after natural disasters, such as the devastating tornadoes this past weekend, officials said.

The IRS reminded taxpayers that there is a deduction temporarily available through the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Filers on their federal forms can take off up to $300 for individuals or $600 for those filing jointly for charitable contributions without having to itemize the donations, officials said.

Most taxpayers file – about 9 in 10 taxpayers – using the standard deduction, and normally they could not take  this deducition, but they can through this temporary law, which is only in effect until Dec. 31, said Edward Killen, deputy commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities division of the IRS.

If you are going to make those contributions, “you should do it as soon as possible,” he said. The IRS provides a searchable database of charitable organizations called the Tax Exempt Organizations Search on its website. Resources like CharityNavigator also exist to help inform donors about the aims of registered nonprofits and their spending habits. 

Contributions to many charities are down this year while those who need their help…

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