Rhonda's A 'Muse'-ing Rambles

Life and Times of a Busy Woman

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Don’t Forget Charity!

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on December 9, 2009

I don’t often get on a ‘band stand’, but one thing I do really feel deeply about is charity. And that includes volunteer work as well, but for today’s topic, we’ll just talk about charitable donations and how it can help you on your taxes.

 These tips are generally meant to be for writers, but they can help many people out whether you have a business or just file a personal tax return. Now is the time for you to clean out all those closets and drawers and donate those gently used items to your favorite charity before the end of the year so that you can take advantage of the deduction on your tax return. Clothing, linens, coats, shoes, toys, furniture, electronics, household goods, books and more – all are welcome

 First topic: Your Christmas tree and organic green wreathes. What do you do with them when you are done with them as a decoration? First, if you have a live tree – plant it or donate it somewhere that it can be planted. If you donate it to a place to be planted such as a school, church, park, veterans home and other worthy places, you can deduct the price of the tree as a tax deduction. If you don’t have a plantable tree with roots, then consider donating it to a zoo. The animals, especially the elephants, love to eat these things and it is a very nutritious treat for them. First though, you need to contact the zoo or animal safari place well in advance and ask if they even want the trees. Then, you have to make a very special effort to clean every last drop of tinsel, hooks and decoration off the tree as these things are very harmful to the animals. Again, if you donate the item to a zoo, etc – you can take the cost of the tree as a tax deductible donation.

 What can help a writer though? First of all, you can donate books. If you look back at the previous posting about books, you will learn the basics about how to value this deduction. Instead of taking it off of your personal return as an itemized deduction on Schedule A, your business can deduct the books and other donated goods from your business return. This can mean an additional tax savings of more than 15% over using it on a personal return; especially if you file as a sole proprietor on a Schedule C. A few of the common places that love to accept the books are: schools, churches, nursing homes, veterans’ homes and libraries.

 You may also make cash donations or buy items and donate them to a charity in the business name. For example, your business can buy three tickets to a Christmas play and donate it to one of the organizations, such as the Jaycees, for the children to enjoy. There are many such charities as these that take kids to sports games, rodeos, movies, a circus and a variety of cultural and holiday events throughout the year.

 I highly encourage you to talk to your tax preparer about charity items that you have donated during the year so they can tell you exactly where to place it on your tax return. There are rules and limitations on using charity as a deduction and these change from year to year as to amounts and qualified items that you can donate, so please be sure to only use this information as a discussion topic and get professional advice on the current rules. Regardless of whether or not you use a charity deduction on your tax return, just please do give. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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