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I just donated $100 to a cause through the Change.org website.

And I will continue to donate before this year ends.

How do I put that on my tax returns so that it can be deducted from my taxable income?

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  • One thing to be aware of: It may not even matter. For most people (some estimate 90%) taking the standard deduction makes more sense than itemizing. If you do that, you won't get any additional tax benefit from these donations.
    – JohnFx
    Dec 25 '21 at 17:00
  • @JohnFx: normally not, but this year (2021) there is a non-itemized deduction for up to $300 (x2 if MFJ) cash gifts to actual charities, see irs.gov/newsroom/… . Dec 26 '21 at 10:50
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Ask for an acknowledgement letter

Contact change.org (or whoever you gave the money to). Ask them for a letter indicating

  • the amount of your aggregate donations through end-of-year
  • a statement that they are a 501(C)(3) or other types of non-profit charity for which donations are tax deductible.

Any charity is required to give you this letter if your total donations exceed $250. Any non-insane charity will give you this letter on request.

Also, carefully review the language on all the donation pages, and make sure there isn't anything you missed. Some people claim "Chip In" amounts do not actually help the cause, merely fund advertising so change.org can promote the page to try to get more signatures, and this fact is hidden in fine print. If that's true, they won't be legally able to give you the letter above - in which case it is not tax deductible.

"Donations" to for-profit corporations are not tax deductible. (neither is most of the Patreon or OnlyFans-style support of artists).

Let DAF's screen charities for you!

It can be very confusing.

The simplest way is to donate exclusively via Donor Advised Funds, especially "mini-DAFs" such as CharityNavigator.org which handle gifts of any size. They check to assure the charity is really a charity before they will allow you to make a gift. They charge a tiny fraction for their own overhead, and allow you to consolidate all your giving into one receipt. If you funnel all your giving through these, this will prevent you from being "ripped off" and protect your right to deduct. Since they are themselves charities, even their overhead is tax deductible.

Other bonuses: they can remove your address/email from gifts, so you don't get bombed with postal mailings for years. They can accept more complex gifts, so you can donate appreciated stock*, real estate, fine art, or even copyrights via DAFs. You can take the tax deduction now and defer the actual giving, E.g. donate $7000 of stocks once, take the tax deduction, and over the next few years make dozens of $100 gifts to many charities as you wish.

For general research on charities, there is also GuideStar.org which hosts basic data about charities including their Form 990 annual tax returns, listing their revenue, expenses and top program services.


* When donating stock, always donate the appreciated stock. Never "sell the stock and donate the proceeds" because then you pay capital gains tax on it! If you donate the stock to the charity, they pay capital gains at the charity rate of 0%. The average charity wouldn't know what to do with stocks, but DAFs do, so you route the gift through the DAF.

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