Charitable contribution reporting

The Internal Revenue Code applies substantiation requirements for donors, and disclosure requirements for charitable organizations, in connection with charitable contributions. While many private foundations do not engage in fundraising activities, some do solicit contributions, and a foundation may need to be familiar with the tax rules requiring substantiation and disclosure.

For a detailed discussion of the substantiation and disclosure requirements for charitable contributions, see Publication 1771, Charitable Contributions: Substantiation and Disclosure RequirementsPDF.

Substantiation of contributions

A donor can deduct a charitable contribution of $250 or more only if the donor has a written acknowledgment from the charitable organization. The donor must get the acknowledgement by the earlier of:

The date the donor files the original return for the year the contribution is made OR the due date, including extensions, for filing the return.

The donor is responsible for requesting and obtaining the written acknowledgement from the donee.

For contributions of cash, check, or other monetary gifts, the donor must maintain as a record a bank record or other written communication from the donee organization showing the donee's name and date and amount of contribution.  

Charity auctions

Donors who purchase items at a charity auction may claim a charitable contribution deduction for the excess of the purchase price paid for an item over its fair market value. 

Substantiating noncash contributions

Additional substantiation requirements generally apply to contributions of property. Charitable organizations can help their contributors by providing the required substantiation.

Quid pro quo contributions

A charitable organization must provide a written disclosure statement to any donor of a quid pro quo contribution over $75.

Vehicle donations

Additional substantiation and disclosure rules may apply when a donor contributes a vehicle to a charitable organization and claims the value of the vehicle is more than $500.  See Publication 4302, A Charity's Guide to Vehicle DonationsPDF, and Publication 4303, A Donor's Guide to Vehicle DonationsPDF, for more information.

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