Charitable Deductions – Date of Gift Rules

Charitable Deductions: Date of Gift Rules

The hallmark of 501(c)(3) status is that donors can deduct from their personal taxes contributions to 501(c)(3) organizations. Generally, the value of the gift is calculated upon delivery.

However, sometimes it can be tricky to determine at what point delivery is made and, thus, when to calculate the value of a gift.

For example, when you donate money directly to a 501(c)(3), it is easy to know when the donation was delivered (immediately when the money is donated) and what the value of that donation is (the amount of money given).

But what about gifting money through the mail? Is it delivered when you put the donation in the mailbox, or when the nonprofit receives it? What if your gift is a depreciable (or appreciable) asset such as real estate? The following chart outlines common date of gift rules for charitable deductions.

Type of GiftMethod of DeliveryDate of Gift
Cash, Check, or CertificateIn-PersonDate nonprofit receives the gift.
Cash, Check, or CertificateMail or delivery serviceIf the gift was mailed by the U.S. Postal service, it is deemed delivered when the donor places the gift in the mail. If the gift was mailed via a private delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS), it is deemed delivered on the date on which it arrives at the nonprofit.
Reissued Stock (donor instructs corporation to transfer ownership of the stock to the nonprofit)Issuer or transfer agentDate on which the issuer or transfer agent changes the ownership records to reflect the transfer.
Credit CardOnline or in-personDate on which the charge occurs.
Real EstateIn-PersonVaries by state. 
Tangible Personal PropertyIn-PersonGenerally, the date on which both title and possession are held by the nonprofit. 
Wireless PaymentText messageDate donor sends text message authorizing donation via wireless payment.

Related Post: New Elective Pay Rules for Tax Exempt Organizations

The date of gift rules can be convoluted, but they are important for 501(c)(3)s and donors to understand. 501(c)(3)s must provide receipts to donors, which include the date on which the contribution was received. Having a healthy grasp of these rules will help facilitate donor acknowledgments and ease the burden of frantic donors requesting information come year-end. 

Kyler Mejia is an attorney (bar pending) with Caritas Law Group, P.C. Caritas Law Group, P.C. Kyler advises nonprofit and socially responsible businesses on corporate, tax, and fundraising regulations nationwide as well as donors with regard to major gifts. To schedule a consultation, call 602-456-0071 or email us through our contact form

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