How Much Do You Have to Donate to Get a Tax Deduction?

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You can get a tax deduction even if you only donate $1. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the minimum donation amount to get a tax deduction?

There’s no minimum amount you need to donate to get a tax deduction. You can even take a deduction if you donate your loose change.

There are a few things to keep in mind, though.

  • Your donations must be to a qualifying non-profit organization. Just calling it a donation, even if you think it’s for a good cause or to someone in need, isn’t enough.
  • You need to keep proof of your donation. That usually means you need to get a receipt.
  • You can’t get anything in return. If you do, it’s generally not a donation except for any amount you paid above what the item is actually worth.
  • Donations are itemized deductions.

That last item about itemized deductions will be the sticking point for most people.

If you already itemize your tax deductions and donate $1, you’ll add $1 to your itemized deductions. No problem there.

If you don’t itemize, you’ll need to donate enough to make your itemized deductions add up to more than the standard deduction. If you use the standard deduction, it already covers your donations, so you don’t get an extra deduction for donating.

Examples (using the 2023 standard deduction for single filers of $13,850):

  • You don’t have any potential itemized deductions. You donate $13,850 or less. You would still use the standard deduction and not get a deduction for your donation.
  • You don’t have any potential itemized deductions. You donate $13,900. You can claim an itemized deduction of $13,900. You won’t get the standard deduction.
  • You have $13,000 in potential itemized deductions but usually take the standard deduction because it’s bigger. You donate $1,000. You can now claim $14,000 in itemized deductions instead of the smaller $13,850 standard deduction.

What’s the maximum donation amount to get a tax deduction?

There is no maximum amount you can donate each year. There is a maximum tax deduction.

The maximum annual deductible charitable contribution is usually 60% of your adjusted gross income through 2025. (Lower limits apply to certain types of donations.)

So if your AGI is $100,000, you can deduct up to $60,000 in charitable contributions.

If you donate more than the maximum you can deduct, you can usually deduct the extra amount in a future year.

So if your AGI is $100,000 and you donated $70,000, you can deduct $60,000 this year and carry the remaining $10,000 forward to next year. The $10,000 gets used up after your current year donations, and you can save it for up to five years.

Examples:

  • If you don’t donate anything next year, deduct the remaining $10,000 next year.
  • If your donations next year are $5,000 below the limit, use $5,000 of your extra $10,000 and save $5,000 for the following year.
  • If your donations next year are at the limit, keep saving your $10,000 for the following year.
  • If you max out your donations for the next five years, you’ll lose your ability to deduct that extra $10,000. But you still supported a good cause.

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