What is a Qualified Organization for Charitable Deductions?

In a post last week, I explored the basics of charitable contributions, and I mentioned that not all “not-for-profit” organizations are qualified organizations for purposes of getting a tax deduction for a donation.  In general, 501(c)(3) organizations qualify, as do churches.

Officially, the Internal Revenue Code, at Section 170(c), defines a charitable organization as:

  • A state or city, as long as your donation is used exclusively for public purposes.
  • A community chest, corporation, trust, fund or foundation organized for any of the following purposes:  religious, charitable, educational, scientific, literary or the prevention of cruelty to animals.
  • A post or organization for war veterans.
  • Fraternal societies, as long as the gift is used for the same purposes as described under bullet-point 2 (religious, charitable, educational, etc.).
  • Nonprofit cemetary companies or corporations.

When in doubt, ask the organization, ask your tax pro, or consult IRS Publication 78.  Publication 78 is actually an on-line search engine at the IRS website.  Churches always qualify, and are NOT shown in Publication 78.