Saturday deadline looms for 2011 charitable donations

WASHINGTON — As 2011 draws to a close, you may be able to use a few tax tips.

If you’re planning to make a charitable donation that you can deduct on your 2011 taxes, you have until Saturday to do it.

Cash gifts that qualify for a 2011 deduction must be postmarked in 2011, although the donation doesn’t need to be cashed by year’s end, according to The Wall Street Journal. The check just needs to be sent in time.

To make sure your donation will definitely qualify, use certified U.S. mail and request a return receipt. If you use a private shipping method, such as FedEx, the charity must get the donation in 2011 for you to get the deduction.

When it comes to making credit card donations, the transaction must go through before Jan. 1, 2012 for it to count — but you don’t have to pay the bill by then.

Gifts of clothing or furniture to a thrift shop must be in good condition to be deductible.

Taxpayers making exclusion gifts are limited to $13,000 per year, per person to an unlimited number of recipients — but recipients need to deposit the check in 2011.

Finally, if you’re planning to donate securities, many brokerages offer a donor-advised fund. Basically, you can park the money there before year end, take the deduction, then choose later the recipients of your generosity.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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