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Find Your Holiday Joy (and write off your charitable donation)12.16.13

Donating to your favorite local charities is a great American tradition during the holiday season. Get an added bonus at tax time when you give in to your generous nature and give to your favorite charities. Just follow these few simple rules when you are donating and you can increase the power of your generosity:

Give where your heart lies

Make giving more rewarding by finding non-profit organizations that align with your interests. Love animals? There are slews of recognized 501c3 charities that rescue, house and facilitate adoptions for homeless pets across the nation.

Get in the spirit of the season

Consider a holiday-themed charity like "Toys for Tots" which collects and distributes toys for underprivileged children all over the U.S.

Commemorate a loved one

Give a gift in memory of someone you have lost. It's a beautiful way to give to others and keep your loved one as a part of your holiday season.

Give supplies

Although monetary donations usually welcomed with most charities, you can also donate much-needed supplies and still get a tax write-off when you get a receipt from your chosen charity. There are reputable groups which collect donations of new and gently used clothing, furniture, pet supplies, toys, books and more. Contact your chosen charity to find out what they need most.

Keep receipts

Keep receipts of items you purchase for your local toys, clothes and food drives. The purchase price of new items donated is fully deductible.

Used item donation guidelines

Used items must be in good or better condition to be allowed as part of your charitable contributions. In addition, you may only deduct the resale value of the items in the current market when you donate them. So keep a list of all gently used items you donate and determine their fair-market-value.

Proof of donation guidelines

The IRS does require proof of all donations and wants both a receipt and a cancelled check or other proof of donation from the organization when a single contribution is greater than $250. Keep your receipts and any financial statements, cancelled checks, or other proof of payment in your tax records.

Give to qualifying charities

Lastly, in order to get a tax deduction, your charitable organization must be recognized as such by the IRS. For a complete list of recognized charities, visit the IRS website and type in "Exempt Organization Select Check".

When the holidays are over, be sure to visit your neighborhood Jackson Hewitt® Tax Pro and bring all of your charitable donation receipts — we'll make sure you get every deduction and credit you deserve and the biggest refund possible.