Now that we’re in the midst of tax season, you’re probably wishing you’d kept better track of your charitable donations throughout the past year. What donations did you forget to log? How much more tax money could you be getting back? Here are some tips for better keeping track of your charitable donations throughout the year, so that you can set yourself up for tax season success next year.
Create an email folder.
It’s a good idea to make your donations using a credit card or debit card, as this will leave a record of your donation on your bank statement. Another plus here is that you can typically receive an email receipt of your donation. Create an email folder titled “Donations” where you can keep all of the email receipts that you receive.
Always get a tax receipt (and create a tax receipt file).
For cash donations, it’s highly important that you always ask for a tax receipt that contains the date, the donation amount, and the name of the charitable organization. In terms of physical goods donations (such as clothing and household items), you should ask for a tax receipt that contains the name of the charitable organization, where you can record the date and estimated donation amount. As you gather tax receipts, be sure to have a file where you can keep all of your receipts together in one place.
Use a spreadsheet.
While it’s great to keep digital proof and physical proof of your donations, ultimately a spreadsheet is what will help you keep all of those charitable donations recorded in one central place. Create a spreadsheet that includes the date, the name of the charitable organization, the donation amount, and a space for a brief description (to list which household items you may have donated, for example). Then your spreadsheet can serve as your go-to source for surveying your yearly donations, with your email folder and tax receipt file serving as your “primary sources” of proof, so to speak.
Use an app.
Still having a hard time keeping track of your tax deductible charitable contributions? Now it’s never been easier thanks to donation tracking apps. Try an app like iDonatedIt or TaxAct, which will help you make accurate estimations of your physical goods donations and keep a record of all of your donations throughout the year.