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Are nonprofits required to give receipts for donations?

Ken Little
Bigstock photo

Bigstock photo

Q. What if a 501(c)3 refuses to give receipts for donations? Are they required to do so? Can such donations be deducted from taxes without a receipt?

A. Kevin T. May, of the Wilmington estate planning, asset protection and tax law firm Graves May, said the question can be complex to answer because different types of gifts require different reporting by the donor.

For example, May said, cash gifts of $250 or more require a statement — meaning receipt — from the nonprofit. Gifts of tangible property of $5,000 or more would have an appraisal done.

“As a result, a general disclaimer – without knowing all of the facts, this email cannot be relied upon for legal advice, tax preparation or avoidance of penalties,” May said.

“To keep it simple, the donor has the burden to show the gift was made. Only in a few circumstances is a nonprofit required to provide a receipt,” May said. “Most do provide a receipt to make it easier for donors. If no receipt is given, then a deduction can still be taken.”

A list of the property donated, fair value of the property, and the donation recipient’s information is required.

“You can back up the donation with pictures of the donated property, original purchase receipts, or serial numbers. Anything is helpful in the event of an audit,” May said.


How did nonprofits use M.C. Erny’s gifts to make a difference?

If a nonprofit group holds a raffle to raise money, is it possible to find out how much of the proceeds go to the charity?




User-contributed question by:
sarah jordan

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2 Responses to “ Are nonprofits required to give receipts for donations?”

  1. On January 28, 2015 at 5:51 pm Roy Talus wrote:

    While the answer to the question is correct (that you should receive a statement for cash gifts above $250 from a non-profit), it might lead some to believe that you do not need documentation for cash gifts below $250.

    In fact, you need documentation for all cash gifts, regardlesss of the amount, in order for the gift to quality for an itemized deduction on your taxes. IRS Pub 17.

    A $20 bill placed in your church collection plate anonymously does not quality. That is why it is recommended that cash gifts be made by check… with the cancelled check serving as the documentation.

  2. On January 29, 2015 at 5:19 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Good point, Mr. Talus. Thanks.

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