Questions About Charitable Contributions
By Richard Hammar, J.D., LL. M., CPA, Christianity Today

1. If I make a contribution in early January 2016, can I claim it on my 2015 taxes?
No, charitable contributions must be claimed in the year in which they are delivered.
2. If I mail my contribution in December 2015, but it doesn’t reach my church until January 2016, for which year should I claim it?
On your 2015 tax return. A check that is mailed to a charity is deductible in the year the check is mailed (and postmarked), even if it is received in the next year.
3. Can I deduct the value of volunteer work I did for the church?
No, the value of personal services is never deductible as a charitable contribution. However, unreimbursed expenses you incur in performing services on behalf of a church or other charity may be.
4. I gave $135 to my church when I registered for a spring retreat. Can I deduct that?
No, assuming you received benefits (e.g., lodging, instruction, materials) worth $135 or more. Charitable contributions generally are deductible only to the extent they exceed the value of the premium or benefit received by the donor in return for the contribution.
5. I designated my contribution to the church benevolence fund. Is it deductible?
If you designate a gift to the benevolence fund or other approved project or program of the church, it is deductible, unless you specify that your contribution be applied to a named individual; then no deduction is allowed.
*The church office will be receiving contributions through December 30, 2015. The office will be closed December 31.