In order to be entitled to a charitable deduction for cash donations, a donor must maintain records providing evidence of the donation. For example, for tax years after August 17, 2006, a donor must maintain a bank record or a written receipt from the donee showing the name of the donee organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution in order to deduct any contribution of cash, check, or other monetary gift (additional rules apply for donations of $250 or more).
The Tax Court re-emphasized the strictness of this requirement in a recent case. In Fessey v. Comm., T.C. Memo. 2010-191 (Aug. 30, 2010), the taxpayer alleged that he donated $920 in cash in 2004 to a church by way of $20 weekly cash donations made to the church’s offering plate. The taxpayer provided the Court with a computer printout listing the date, amount, and recipient of his donations. However, the taxpayer did not produce a receipt or any form of documentary evidence to substantiate his alleged weekly offering plate donations (in 2004, a cancelled check or other reliable written would also have sufficed). Despite the taxpayer’s supporting evidence (which likely included his testimony), the Tax Court denied the deductions made to the church.