What are the legal requirements for providing statements for individual gifts of $250?
The following is an excerpt from the above linked Publication 1771 from the IRS.
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 organization. An organization that does not acknowledge a contribution incurs no penalty; but, without a written acknowledgment, the donor cannot claim the tax deduction. Although it’s a donor’s responsibility to obtain a written acknowledgment, an organization can assist a donor by providing a timely, written statement containing:
- the name of the organization
- the amount of cash contribution
- a description (but not the value) of non-cash contribution
- a statement that no goods or services were provided by the organization in return for the
contribution, if that was the case
- a description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that an organization provided in return for the contribution
- a statement that goods or services, if any, that an organization provided in return for
the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits (described later in this
publication) if that was the case
It isn’t necessary to include either the donor’s Social Security number or tax identification
number on the acknowledgment.
A separate acknowledgment may be provided for each single contribution of $250 or more, or one acknowledgment, such as an annual summary, may be used to substantiate several single contributions of $250 or more. There are no IRS forms for the acknowledgment. Letters, postcards or computer-generated forms with the above information are acceptable. An organization can provide either a paper copy of the acknowledgment to the donor or an organization can provide the acknowledgment electronically, such as via an email addressed to the donor. A donor shouldn’t attach the acknowledgment to his or her individual income tax return but must retain it to substantiate the contribution. Separate contributions of less than $250 will not be aggregated. An example of this could be weekly offerings to a donor’s church of less than $250 even though the donor’s annual total contributions are $250 or more.
Recipient organizations typically send written acknowledgments to donors no later than January 31 of the year following the donation. For the written acknowledgment to be considered contemporaneous with the contribution, a donor must receive the acknowledgment by the earlier of:
- the date on which the donor actually files his or her individual federal income tax return for
the year of the contribution; or
- the due date (including extensions) of the return.