Picking a charity for a tax-deductible donation

If you’re looking to make a charitable donation this year, you have a few days to do so if you want to make it tax deductible for 2013. Your Better Business Bureau offers some advice for finding a charity you can trust.

Over the last year, your BBB received more than 95,000 inquiries about charities across North America. Locally, your BBB recorded almost 8,000 inquiries about charities. Your BBB urges you to do your research to find a reputable charity.

When looking for charity, ask them for a copy of their 990 form. This form is required by the federal government and it shows the organization’s tax status and programs, as well as how it uses funds. If you’re concerned about a donation for tax purposes, check to see if your contribution is tax deductible. If a charity does not have a tax status, it could be a red flag and you may need to look for another charity.

When looking for a trustworthy charity, your Better Business Bureau offers these tips:

• Don’t be pressured into giving. A reputable charity will give you time to make an informed decision.

• Ask questions. An organization with nothing to hide will be happy to answer them.

• Never give out personal information, such as social security numbers, bank or financial information.

• Be wary when making online donations. Be sure the URL starts with https://.

• Avoid unknown charities. Watch out for a charity with a similar name to a well-known charitable organization.

• Refrain from giving cash or by wire transfer. Donate by check, money order or credit card. Give your donation to the charity, not an individual or third party.

• Keep records of your donations so you can document them come tax time.

• Don’t hesitate to ask the charity for its annual report and financial statements.

Remember, you can also check the Internal Revenue Service Web site, www.irs.gov, for information on the deductibility of donations.

In addition, when choosing a charity, it’s helpful to find one whose mission matters to you.

To check out charities you’re considering donating to or for a list of BBB Accredited Charities, visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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