‘Tis the Season for Charitable Giving and Tax Deductions

Tax Deductions and Credits

The holidays are typically the season of giving, but how has the economy impacted charitable giving?

A weak economy has many people feeling more cautious than ever.  As a result, 7 out of 10 of us (68%) will be “giving” more sparingly to our favorite causes, according to a study by Campbell Rinker.  Another 1 in 10 Americans plan to stop giving altogether until the economy gets back on track.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to be charitable without actually dipping into your pocketbook.  All you have to do is shop more thoughtfully, and “doing good” can easily be a part of your everyday life.

Here are some options:

Shop Your Closet

Have a couch that no longer matches your living room decor?  Gently worn clothing that is cluttering up your closet?  A television set that you’re not using?  As long as your “stuff” is in good or better condition, charities will be pleased to take it, and you’ll be rewarded with a nice little tax deduction come tax time.  To determine your item’s fair market value, use ItsDeductible, a free online site from TurboTax.  It’s free, easy to use and it imports directly into your TurboTax return.

Shop Online

A site called GoodShop.com makes giving a cinch.  Anywhere from 3% (on average) to as much as 30% of each purchase you make on this shopping portal – which is affiliated with over 2500 name brand retailers from Amazon, Toys ‘R Us, Target, to GAP, and Petco – is donated to your favorite charity.  Simple as that.

Change Your Search Engine

Every time you do a search on GoodSearch.com, a Yahoo-powered search engine (that you use as you would any other search engine), one penny is donated to your favorite cause.  And those pennies add up:  the ASPCA, to name one, has already earned over $34,000 from searches by its supporters.

Shop Smart

Put your funds to work when you shop by buying from one of the many companies that donate part of their proceeds to a noteworthy cause.  Lots of them do – from Estee Lauder, Kiehls, The Body Shop, Tom’s Shoes, Dancing Deer Baking Company to Newman’s Own.

Buy and Sell on eBay

Support your favorite causes through the eBay Giving Works program.  Sellers:  Choose the charity and the percentage of the sale you’d like to donate when you list an item.  The listing will automatically be indexed for buyers wanting to give to the charity that you have selected.  Buyers can also search for items by charity in order to ensure that their bids support their favorite causes.

Apply Credit Card Points

See if you can convert your credit card points into a charitable donation.  The Members Give program at American Express (amex.justgive.org), for example, allows its customers with points-based rewards cards to redeem these points as a donation to any of the charities listed on GuideStar.org (there are over a million to choose from).  Charities get $10 for every 1,000 points you redeem.

Game for Good

Give to a good cause by playing social games that drive donations to various charities.  TurboTax has a Facebook game, “Gaming for Good“, which is designed to generate holiday toy donations for Toys for Tots.  Successfully complete all three levels of the game and TurboTax will donate one toy to a child in-need.

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