Nonprofit Resources


Contribution Documentation Checklist

During the past 10 to 15 years, Congress has substantially increased the documentation requirements needed to support many types of contribution deductions. The IRS enforces these requirements, and the courts have generally upheld the IRS’s complete denial of improperly documented deductions even when there was other evidence of a contribution. Therefore, “substantial compliance” has not been enough to protect many deductions.

For the most part, these laws are the direct concern of the donor rather than the charity, as very few such laws penalize organizations for non-compliance. Charities play a critical role, however, because donors often cannot properly claim contribution deductions if the organization does not comply with the requirements. Also, for non-cash gifts, the charity’s representative is often the first person to alert the donor of a requirement.

This checklist will point organizations and donors to issues that need to be addressed for a donor to properly claim a contribution deduction. To keep it functional as a checklist, we have omitted long explanations. If any part seems to apply to you and you are not sure of the requirement details, please consult a tax advisor.


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