Maxine Aaronson, Attorney at Law
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Charitable Contributions and Tax Deduction Limits

If you made a tax-deductible contribution to a qualified charitable organization, the actual amount you can deduct may be limited to a percentage of your adjusted gross income. The amount that you are entitled to deduct depends on several factors:

  • Who you made a contribution to
  • What you contributed
  • Your income

The 50% Limit

In general, your charitable deduction cannot be more than half of your adjusted gross income. Contributions made to qualified organizations are subject to the 50% limit. These types of organizations include:

  • Indian tribal governments
  • The United States, District of Columbia, or any state or political subdivision of the U.S.
  • Churches
  • Educational organizations with a full student body and faculty on site
  • Hospitals and research centers

Different rules may apply to contributions of capital gains property (property that would bring long-term income).

The 30% Limit

Your charitable deduction cannot be more than 30% of your adjusted gross income. Contributions subject to the 30% limit include:

  • Contributions of capital gains property to any 50% limit organizations (generally)
  • Money spent on behalf of a student living with you who was selected by a qualified organization
  • Gifts to other qualified organizations besides those subject to the 50% limit
  • Gifts other than those that are capital gain property for the use of any organization
  • The 20% Limit

    For some contributions, your deductions cannot be more than 20% of your adjusted gross income. Contributions subject to the 20% limit are all those that are capital gains property gifts to or for the use of a charitable organization, aside from those that fall under the 50% limit.

    Note: If you contribute 20% or less of your adjusted gross income, there are no limits to the deduction for your total contributions.