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Publication 526

Charitable Contributions


Future Developments(p1)

For the latest information about developments related to Pub. 526 (such as legislation enacted after we release it), go to

What's New(p1)

Limit on itemized deductions.(p1)
For 2016, you may have to reduce the total amount of certain itemized deductions, including charitable contributions, if your adjusted gross income is more than:
  • $155,650 if married filing separately,
  • $259,400 if single,
  • $285,350 if head of household, or
  • $311,300 if married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er).
For more information and a worksheet, see the Instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040).


Disaster relief.(p1)
You can deduct contributions for flood relief, hurricane relief, or other disaster relief to a qualified organization (defined under Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions). However, you can't deduct contributions earmarked for relief of a particular individual or family.
Pub. 3833, Disaster Relief, Providing Assistance through Charitable Organizations, has more information about disaster relief, including how to establish a new charitable organization. You can also find more information on Enter "disaster relief" in the search box.
Photographs of missing children.(p2)
The IRS is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC). Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.


This publication explains how to claim a deduction for your charitable contributions. It discusses the types of organizations to which you can make deductible charitable contributions and the types of contributions you can deduct. It also discusses how much you can deduct, what records you must keep, and how to report charitable contributions.
A charitable contribution is a donation or gift to, or for the use of, a qualified organization. It is voluntary and is made without getting, or expecting to get, anything of equal value.

Qualified organizations.(p2)

Qualified organizations include nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose, or that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals. You will find descriptions of these organizations under Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions.

Form 1040 required.(p2)

To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). The amount of your deduction may be limited if certain rules and limits explained in this publication apply to you.

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can send us comments from Click on "More Information" and then on "Give us feedback."
Or you can write to:

Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.
Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question not answered by this publication, check and How To Get Tax Help at the end of this publication.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 561 Determining the Value of Donated Property
Forms (and Instructions)
 Schedule A (Form 1040): Itemized Deductions
 8283: Noncash Charitable Contributions

See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication for information about getting these publications and forms.

Table 1.Examples of Charitable Contributions—A Quick Check

Use the following lists for a quick check of whether you can deduct a contribution. See the rest of this publication for more information and additional rules and limits that may apply.

Deductible As
Charitable Contributions
Not Deductible As
Charitable Contributions
Money or property you give to:Money or property you give to:
  • Churches, synagogues, temples,
    mosques, and other religious
  • Federal, state, and local
    governments, if your contribution is
    solely for public purposes (for
    example, a gift to reduce the public
    debt or maintain a public park)
  • Nonprofit schools and hospitals
  • The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, CARE, Goodwill Industries, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, etc.
  • War veterans' groups

Expenses paid for a student living with you, sponsored by a qualified organization

Out-of-pocket expenses when you serve a qualified organization as a volunteer
  • Civic leagues, social and sports
    clubs, labor unions, and chambers of
  • Foreign organizations (except certain
    Canadian, Israeli, and Mexican
  • Groups that are run for personal
  • Groups whose purpose is to lobby for
    law changes
  • Homeowners' associations
  • Individuals
  • Political groups or candidates for
    public office

Cost of raffle, bingo, or lottery tickets

Dues, fees, or bills paid to country clubs, lodges, fraternal orders, or similar groups


Value of your time or services

Value of blood given to a blood bank

Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions(p2)

You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. Most organizations, other than churches and governments, must apply to the IRS to become a qualified organization.

How to check whether an organization can receive deductible charitable contributions.(p2)

You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization, and most will be able to tell you. Or go to Click on "Tools" and then on "Exempt Organizations Select Check" ( This online tool will enable you to search for qualified organizations.

Types of Qualified Organizations(p2)

Generally, only the following types of organizations can be qualified organizations.
  1. A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation organized or created in or under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States (including Puerto Rico). It must, however, be organized and operated only for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. Certain organizations that foster national or international amateur sports competition also qualify.
  2. War veterans' organizations, including posts, auxiliaries, trusts, or foundations, organized in the United States or any of its possessions (including Puerto Rico).
  3. Domestic fraternal societies, orders, and associations operating under the lodge system. (Your contribution to this type of organization is deductible only if it is to be used solely for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.)
  4. Certain nonprofit cemetery companies or corporations. (Your contribution to this type of organization isn't deductible if it can be used for the care of a specific lot or mausoleum crypt.)
  5. The United States or any state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. possession (including Puerto Rico), a political subdivision of a state or U.S. possession, or an Indian tribal government or any of its subdivisions that perform substantial government functions. (Your contribution to this type of organization is deductible only if it is to be used solely for public purposes.)Example 1. You contribute cash to your city's police department to be used as a reward for information about a crime. The city police department is a qualified organization, and your contribution is for a public purpose. You can deduct your contribution.
    Example 2. You make a voluntary contribution to the social security trust fund, not earmarked for a specific account. Because the trust fund is part of the U.S. government, you contributed to a qualified organization. You can deduct your contribution.


The following list gives some examples of qualified organizations.

Canadian charities.(p3)

You may be able to deduct contributions to certain Canadian charitable organizations covered under an income tax treaty with Canada. To deduct your contribution to a Canadian charity, you generally must have income from sources in Canada. See Pub. 597, Information on the United States-Canada Income Tax Treaty, for information on how to figure your deduction.

Mexican charities.(p3)

Under the U.S.-Mexico income tax treaty, a contribution to a Mexican charitable organization may be deductible, but only if and to the extent the contribution would have been treated as a charitable contribution to a public charity created or organized under U.S. law. To deduct your contribution to a Mexican charity, you must have income from sources in Mexico. The limits described in Limits on Deductions, later, apply and are figured using your income from Mexican sources.

Israeli charities.(p3)

Under the U.S.-Israel income tax treaty, a contribution to an Israeli charitable organization is deductible if and to the extent the contribution would have been treated as a charitable contribution if the organization had been created or organized under U.S. law. To deduct your contribution to an Israeli charity, you must have income from sources in Israel. The limits described in Limits on Deductions, later, apply. The deduction is also limited to 25% of your adjusted gross income from Israeli sources.