No receipt or bank record of contribution means no tax deduction!

Gifts of clothing and household items: Many people periodically clear out their closets and attics, donate unwanted items to charity, and claim a tax deduction for the value of the items. You can continue to do this in the future—but only if the items are in "good" or better condition. This new rule applies to donations of clothing, furniture, appliances, linens and similar household items. As a guide to defining "good condition", taxpayers can look to the criteria established by charities. Basically they do not want "anything that you would not want to buy". Household items cannot be broken or in disrepair. Effective August 17, 2006, donors must obtain a receipt from the charity, stating name of the organization, date and location of the gift and a detailed description of the gift.

Click here for helpful valuation worksheets, to keep better track of non-cash donations!

Cash gifts: As a general rule, tax deductions for charitable contributions must be substantiated by canceled checks or receipts from the charity. In the past, a log or other written record sufficed when cancelled checks or receipts were not readily available. So, for example, if you dropped a $20 bill in the Sunday collection plate or in a Christmas kettle outside of a department store, you could still claim a tax deduction as long as you kept a record of the donation. The law eliminated this option in 2007. It does not matter if a cash donation is fifty cents or $1000. To be deductible, the cash donation must be substantiated by a bank record or written communication from the charity.