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I mailed a check as a donation to a charitable org on 31 Dec 2014. It was cashed on 9 Jan 2015. I intended it for 2014 taxes, but forgot to include. Since it was cashed in 2015, can I include it on my 2015 taxes? Does it depend on how the charitable org reported it?

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    What date does the receipt issued by the charitable organization carry? – DJohnM Mar 31 '16 at 21:09
  • I didn't receive a receipt yet. We moved shortly after the donation, and didn't receive it--have requested a copy. Donation was $3K. I believe the check was mailed on 31 Dec 2014. I want to do the honest thing. – Ahnold Apr 1 '16 at 3:23
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When you write the check and mail it, the donation occurred from your point of view, no matter when it's actually cashed.

For example, from the NY Community trust's page on the matter:

A charitable gift by check is effective when the check is delivered or mailed, as long as the check clears in due course, even though a donor theoretically could stop payment at any time until the check is presented for payment.

So, if your check was mailed on 12/31/2014 it was in 2014's tax year. If you wrote it on 12/31 but didn't mail it until 1/2/2015, it was in 2015's tax year.

You can still file a 1040X to claim the deduction in 2014, if it's enough that you consider it worth your time to do that.

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    On the other hand, who knows when exactly you mailed the check? If it cleared on Jan/2, you could have dropped it in their box on Jan/1, and who could prove otherwise? (Assuming anyone ever asks). - now if you want to run for president in some years, I'd be careful, because the opposition might dig that out... – Aganju Mar 31 '16 at 23:51
  • I presume answers here should be legally correct, but yes, odds are this wouldn't be a problem. – Joe Mar 31 '16 at 23:54
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    As long as it's real, accurate, ,you only claim it once a d moving it from year to year doesn't change the final result... "The object of the game is to be as honest as the law allows," and I think an auditor would let this slide as less hassle for everyone than filling an amended return for the previous year. – keshlam Apr 1 '16 at 0:34
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    Joe, I'm nitpicking, but you described exactly the opposite of "cash-based". In cash-based accounting the expense is recognized when paid, while you described an accrual: expense recognized when accrued (check mailed). That said, what you described is exactly how the law deals with donations, which is an exception to the usual cash-basis handling of the deductions on the individual tax return. – littleadv Apr 1 '16 at 2:23
  • @littleadv I did wonder about that. – Joe Apr 1 '16 at 2:24

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