Can a Tithe Be Deducted in a Tax Return?
- Before your tithe qualifies as a valid tax deduction, the church must be established with the IRS and follow certain guidelines, such as filing an annual information return. While very few churches are affected by revocation or fail to establish a working relationship with the IRS, you should be able to confirm whether a tithe is deductible with church personnel or by visiting the IRS website.
- You must itemize your taxes and file a Schedule A, Itemized Deductions to take advantage of a tax deduction like charitable contributions. Itemizing is not always the best option for everyone. Before you decide to itemize deductions, determine whether you will save more by itemizing or by taking the standard deduction. In many cases, unless you have a lot of medical expenses to deduct or mortgage interest, you will save more by taking the standard deduction. If this is the case, your tithe will not benefit you as a tax deduction.
- Tithing taken literally is 10 percent of your salary. You may choose to give more than 10 percent to your church, plus make other monetary and non-monetary contributions to other organizations during the year. No matter how much you give, the IRS limits the total amount of charitable contributions you can claim as a tax deduction to no more than 50 percent of your adjusted gross income. Anything additional is admirable, but not tax deductible.
- No matter how much you contribute, the IRS requires you to keep documentation, such as cancelled checks or a receipt. The documentation must include the date, organization and the amount. You must also note whether you received anything in exchange for the donation and the worth of what you received. For example, if you receive an invitation to annual dinner worth $50 as a reward for your tithe, your deduction would be the total amount of the contribution less the $50.