Tax Deductible Altruism

by Christine Biser

Did you donate pet supplies to Frederick County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center (FCAC) in 2015? Did you bolster FCAC's medical fund by making a monetary donation? Did you foster a critter—or a whole litter of critters?for the shelter, incurring costs for pet food and travel?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your efforts to help homeless animals may be tax deductible. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes certain donations to local government agencies, like FCAC, as a charitable contribution. Such a donation lowers the amount of income on which you must pay personal income tax.

Of course, you will need to use IRS Form 1040, not the 1040-EZ, to claim your kindness. And you'll need to follow a few rules, summarized here:

For more information, check out IRS Tax Tip 2011-57: Eight Tips for Deducting Charitable Contributions. This overview has links to other relevant publications, in which you can find more comprehensive instructions.

Of course, we don't donate or volunteer our time for the tax deduction; we do it to help homeless animals. But if you can reduce your tax bill a bit, why not? Think of it as a thank you for your kindness, direct from the federal government.

Christine Biser helps homeless animals by fostering kittens for FCAC and by volunteering at a high-volume spay/neuter clinic. She recently earned her B.S. in finance.