Deducting Charitable Contributions

(credit: Getty Images)

(credit: Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - What part of a charitable contribution can you deduct on your taxes?

Female bodybuilder Tegan Campbell auctioned off her sequined bikinis to raise funds for draught-stricken farmers. Ugh. What does the loser get? The obligation to wear it? I have nightmares that involve being seen in a sequin bikini.

Another nightmare: taxes, but at least you have deductions to offset your taxes, like contributions to charity. But while you make contributions out of the goodness of your heart, you also sometimes make contributions for what you get in return – like your new bikini – or the religious schooling your kids get from the church to which you contribute.

Can you deduct the whole sum every time you write a check to a nonprofit?

If you get something of value back when you make a contribution, you can deduct only the amount of your contribution that is more than the benefit you receive. For example, if you go to a charity auction and bid and win a week’s stay at a beach house for $600, if that amount is not more than the fair market value for the rental, you haven’t made a deductible contribution.

Still, knowing that you are helping a worthy cause like taking one more bikini off the beach, is priceless.

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