Every election year you can depend on two things: a lot of nasty rhetoric, and a flood of emails, texts and robocalls asking for political donations. You can’t do much about the former, but you can control the latter — either by ignoring the pitches or donating your time or money.
If you choose the latter, you might wonder if political donations are tax deductible. The answer is easy: they aren’t. You cannot write off political donations regardless of whether you give your money, time or effort.
According to Intuit TurboTax, the IRS is “very clear that money contributed to a politician or political party can’t be deducted from your taxes.” That rule applies to donations to any of the following:
- Political candidate
- Political party
- Campaign committee
- Newsletter fund
- Advertisements in convention bulletins
- Admission to dinners or programs that benefit a political party or political candidate
- Political action committees
You also can’t write off donations to groups that lobby for law changes, civic leagues or labor unions. If you checked the box on your Form 1040 asking if you want to give $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, this will not affect your taxes or deductions.
The same rules apply to both individuals and businesses. If you are unsure whether a particular organization qualifies as a legitimate charity, visit the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Organization Search Tool.
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Here are examples of organizations that you can deduct charitable contributions to:
- A church, synagogue or other religious organization
- A war veterans’ organization or its post, auxiliary, trust or foundation organized in the United States or its possessions.
- Qualified nonprofit schools and hospitals
- Qualified nonprofit organizations such as the American Red Cross, United Way, Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America
- A nonprofit volunteer fire company
- A domestic fraternal society operating under the lodge system, but only if the contribution is to be used exclusively for charitable purposes
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