112th Precinct Community Council

donations to charities

Jan 13, 2007

?  ? Donations to Charities
By Heidi Harrison Chain

At this time of the year, many people donate to charities. When you consider making a donation to a charity be careful. As we know there are many groups that claim to be the police department or the fire department. These New York City agencies do not solicit charitable contributions. As indicated on the NYPD web site: ?“The New York City Police Department NEVER calls asking for money...if you need additional information on any "Police" type charity group (including financial information) contact the Police Impersonation Unit of the Internal Affairs Bureau at (718) 383-8067, or you can register a complaint at the I.A.B. Command Center at (212) 741-8401.?”
Unfortunately many scam artists try during this period to solicit donations and they are not the real charitable organizations. If you?’re thinking about donating, here are some useful things that the FTC has previously urged people to consider:
Donate to recognized charities you have given to before.
Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight.
Be wary of charities with names that sound like familiar, or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
Give directly to the charity, not the solicitors for the charity. That?’s because solicitors take a portion of the proceeds to cover their costs, which leaves less for victim assistance.
Do not give out personal or financial information ?— including your Social Security number or credit card and bank account numbers ?— to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists use this information to commit fraud against you.
Check out any charities before you donate. Contact the Better Business Bureau
Don?’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check.
Ask for identification if you?’re approached in person. Many states require paid fund-raisers to identify themselves as such and to name the charity for which they?’re soliciting.
Ask for written information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity or fund-raiser will give you information about the charity's mission, how your donation will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.

In addition, be aware that the IRS has issued new guidelines regarding the deductions that you can take for charitable contributions. The IRS website indicates that on December 1, 2006 there are new guidelines for taxpayers to follow to substantiate donations to charities.

Notice 2006-110 explains how a taxpayer? who makes charitable contributions by payroll deductions can meet the new recordkeeping requirements.?  The taxpayer should retain a pay stub, Form W-2, or other document furnished by the employer that shows the total amount withheld for payment to charity, along with the pledge card that shows the name of the charity. The recently enacted Pension Protection Act of 2006 changed the recordkeeping requirements for taxpayers claiming deductions for cash contributions to charities, including contributions made by payroll deductions.?  For calendar year taxpayers, the new rules apply to contributions made beginning in 2007.

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