How to Give this Holiday Season

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The holiday season is a great time to give to those less fortunate. As a small business owner it’s especially beneficial. Learn how you can give, and what you need to do to make your gift tax deductible.

The holiday season is one of the best times of the year to help those in need. Opportunities to help others seem to be around every corner. Holiday giving is great because everyone benefits from it. You have the opportunity to help people who need it and your donations are tax deductible.

What contributions are tax deductible?

There are many different ways you can give to charities during the holidays. The most common ways are through cash donations, gifts, service (a time donation.) When you “donate” your time it isn’t tax deductible, but you can deduct any mileage that you used. Cash donations and gifts are tax deductible; it’s best to keep a record of how much you gave, or the cash value of your gift, so that you can deduct it.

If you plan to claim your donations on your taxes, make sure you ask for a receipt from the charity you’re giving it to.

What organizations can I give to?

Before you make a donation to a charity you’ll want to do research and find out which charities are legitimate and how they use their funds. A good rule of thumb is to choose a charity that spends 20% or less on administrative costs. That means that 80% of the profits benefit the cause directly.

In order to get a tax deduction for your charitable donation you have to give to a charity on the IRS’ list of exempt organizations. The IRS states that the following are all qualified:

  • A sate, local or national government or political party if made exclusively for public purposes;
  • A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation, that is organized and operated exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals;
  • A church, synagogue, or other religious organization
  • A war veterans’ organization
  • A nonprofit volunteer fire company
  • A civil defense organization
  • A fraternal society, operating under the lodge system, but only if the contribution is to be used exclusively for charitable purposes;
  • A nonprofit cemetery company if the funds are specifically dedicated to the care of the cemetery as a whole and not a particular lot or mausoleum crypt.

What do I count as personal donation vs. a business donation on my taxes?

As a small business owner, you should be sure to differentiate if you are making the donation on behalf of your company or from yourself. The biggest difference is where the funds come from.

Business donations should not come from your personal accounts. Make sure that you use money from your business accounts so that you can deduct it from your business taxes. There is generally more flexibility in what counts as a charitable contribution from businesses, but be sure to check with your accountant before you claim anything.

When you are ready to claim your donation on your taxes, have your accountant see if you will get more money through an itemized deduction the standard deduction. It can be more beneficial to claim the standard amount in some cases


While tax deductions are a great benefit to charitable giving, it shouldn’t be the only reason you give. Tony Robbins, a multimillionaire, life coach and author said, “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.”

Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.

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