December 12, 2012

Church Official Statements of Annual Giving

Question:

What is the proper and legal wording for ministries to put on their statements to donors to indicate that no good or service was rendered for the stated giving?

Answer:

The IRS Publication 1828 publishes the rules regarding this, and other, legal documents which a church must prepare. 

"A donor cannot claim a tax deduction for any single contribution of $250 or more unless the donor obtains a contemporaneous, written acknowledgment of the contribution from the recipient church or religious organization. A church or religious organization that does not acknowledge a contribution incurs no penalty; but without a written acknowledgment, the donor cannot claim a tax deduction. Although it is a donor’s responsibility to obtain a written acknowledgment, a church or religious organization can assist the donor by providing a timely, written statement containing the following information:

name of the church or religious organization,
date of the contribution,
amount of any cash contribution, and
description (but not the value) of non-cash contributions.

"In addition, the timely, written statement must contain one of the following:

statement that no goods or services were provided by the church or religious organization in return for the contribution,
statement that goods or services that a church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits, or
description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services other than intangible religious benefits that the church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution.
"The church or religious organization may either provide separate acknowledgments for each single contribution of $250 or more or one acknowledgment to substantiate several single contributions of $250 or more. Separate contributions are not aggregated for purposes of measuring the $250 threshold."

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