YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many will donate to charities for Giving Tuesday as a way to give back during the holiday season. First News reached out to local experts about charitable tax deductions and how to catch phony charities before you donate.
Scammers take advantage of us, even when our intentions are pure.
How do you know if your money is going to a legitimate organization?
The Better Business Bureau says to watch for phony charities when deciding where to donate.
Melissa Ames with the local BBB office says legitimate organizations would not pressure you to give on the spot.
Other tips include doing research and being thorough.
Ames says the BBB has found one common thing scammers may use trick consumers.
“They will change their name slightly. So, it might be an organization that you’re really familiar with, but they add an ‘s’ to it. Or, they change up the name somehow,” Ames says.
Ames says if you saw the organization on social media, to also check their website. Finding a local tie or contact can help prove legitimacy.
As for tax deductions from charitable donations, many people may never see the tax benefits.
For those in the middle class, most likely you wouldn’t need to worry about filing taxes for charitable donations.
Local tax expert Chris Mediate says many people will donate money, but won’t see any tax benefits from it.
Mediate says it’s because they didn’t donate enough to surpass the standard deductible.
If your filing status is single, your donated contributions would need to surpass more than $12,000 over the entire year.
For those who are married and file jointly, you’d have to donate more than $25,000 over the year.
Mediate says unless you are going to surpass that amount, it’s unlikely you’ll need to do anything different.
“More than likely, you’re not going to push yourself over that threshold, unless you are very charitably inclined. So, again, this just comes back down to goodness of your heart — you’re doing something, you’re already basically getting credit for it,” Mediate says. “It’s just very kind, nice thing to do.”
One strategy Mediate recommends to get over your standard deduction is by bunching deductions.
This means you could donate a high amount at the start of the year and again in December to add to your total yearly deductions.
According to NerdWallet, you itemize all your contributions through the year. However, it might be worth it going through the trouble and easier to just take the standard deduction.
If you are concerned or have questions, you should contact a tax professional for guidance.