Tips for maximizing your annual giving tax deductions

See our tips for maximizing the tax benefits of your charitable donations.

By James Addis, World Vision
Updated April 12, 2015 at 09:00am PDT

Note: Nothing in this article is intended as legal or tax advice, and World Vision recommends that you consult with your personal tax adviser regarding charitable deductions, as your tax circumstances may be different.

In the interest of making sure donors get the maximum tax benefit from their donations, while keeping within the rules, here are a few tips to bear in mind when donating to a charity — plus a few pointers on how World Vision can help.

1. Give to a qualified organization.

Of course, the best way to maximize tax credits in the first place is to ensure that you claim a deduction for all legitimate charitable donations you make throughout the tax year.

According to Charity Navigator, a monitoring group, many worthy charities are funded by donors who are able to make larger gifts as a result of the charitable tax deductions they later claim. But the organization’s website warns that the government continues to be concerned with taxpayers inflating the value of their gifts and abusing the spirit of such tax breaks.

You can deduct your charitable contributions only if you give to a qualified organization subject to the laws of the United States. (See IRS Publication 526.) Qualified organizations include those that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, literary, or seek to prevent cruelty to children or animals. World Vision is a qualified organization, so all donations are tax-deductible in full or in part.

2. Document everything.

To claim a charitable deduction, you must be prepared to verify it. This is accomplished most efficiently with a written acknowledgement from the organization.

World Vision donors can get a written acknowledgement of their giving by logging on to their account online. Once you log in, select “My Giving History,” and then click the handy “Print Tax Receipt” button. Child sponsors can view their tax receipt by logging in to My WorldVision.

For text message donations, your telephone bill may be used if it shows the name of the receiving organization, date of contribution, and amount donated.    

3. Be careful about valuation.

The IRS continues to be concerned about taxpayers who inflate the value of their donations, especially donated vehicles. The IRS carefully scrutinizes such deductions.Household goods are another category of donation that may be scrutinized.

If your total deduction for all noncash contributions are more than $500, you must complete and attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions with your tax return. For noncash donations valued at more than $5,000, you must also complete Section B of Form 8283, which may also require an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.

4. Note if you receive a benefit.

If you receive a benefit because of your charitable contribution, such as merchandise or tickets to a ball game, then you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit you received.

5. Itemize deductions.

The only way to get a deduction for the contributions that you make is to “itemize” deductions. When you complete your taxes, you have the option to claim a standard tax deduction, or to claim your tax deductions individually on Schedule A of the IRS Form 1040 (.pdf).

If your total deductions (which include things such as state and local taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions) are greater than the standard deduction, you’ll come out ahead by itemizing and maximize the full effect of your charitable contributions.

6. Consider donating assets

The sale of stock that has appreciated in value could cost thousands of dollars in taxes on the capital gain. However, these taxes are eliminated by donating the stock to World Vision. Other assets that can be donated include bonds, mutual funds, farms, property, and life insurance policies.

For more information about donating assets to World Vision, email a note to