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In 2007 You Will Need A Receipt For The IRS

Beginning January 1, 2007, the IRS will require receipts for all charitable deductions. Individual contributions of more than $250 will continue to require paperwork from either your bank, credit card company or the receiving organization. However, with the new rule tucked into the Pension Protection Act of 2006, you will now need a receipt to claim any donation when you file your tax return.

Before giving to a charity, you may want to check it out with the IRS, which lists all tax-exempt charities in its Publication 78. To search the publication, go to www.irs.gov and type "Publication 78" in the search box. Then enter the name of the organization you want to research. You can also call the IRS at 1-800-TAX-1040.

Watch Out For Scams

Beware of charity scams...solicitations from charities come in many forms; e-mails, letters, phone calls or a person at your door. here are some tips to sort out the requests and ensure your donation goes to a legitimate charity and not a scam artist.

TELEPHONE SOLICITATIONS

  • Don't pledge a donation over the phone, advises the Federal Trade Commission. Instead, ask that the charity mail you information about its programs and practices.
  • If the telephone solicitor claims that the charity will support local organizations, call those organizations to verify.
  • Never provide your bank or credit card information over the phone. Make your donation via a mailed check once you've checked out the charity thoroughly.

MAIL OR E-MAIL SOLICITATIONS

  • By law, you aren't required to pay for any gift sent as an enticement to donate, reports the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Donation requests sent in the form of invoices or bills should be reported to your local Better Bisiness Bureau.
  • Mailed information about a charity should give you specific details about the charity's programs and how its operations are run. Avoid donating to programs that are heavy on heartfelt appeal but lack basic details about the charity and its programs.

IN-PERSON SOLICITATIONS

  • Ask to see the solicitor's personal identification.
  • Get literature about the charity as well as its full mailing address.
  • Ask questions. Legitimate charity representatives should be knowledgeable about the charity's programs and practices, and will be happy to answer your questions.
  • If you're asked to buy items like candy, magazines, etc. to benefit a charity, find out what the charity's share will be.
  • Don't donate if the solicitor uses pressure tactics as defined by the BBB as intimidation, threats or repeated visits.
  • If you decide to donate, write a check to the charity and not the solicitor.