End of year donations and tax deductions

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --- Some charitable organizations say more than 40% of their tax deductible donations are made in the last weeks of the year.

If you want to take advantage of current tax laws there's only have 5 days left before this year's tax laws could change.

Several scenarios surrounding fiscal cliff negotiations call for a change in tax deductions.

Some depend on income and item.

While it's not clear if anything will change, many organizations say now is the time to donate because with proper documentation you can help them and help yourself.

If you are donating cash, Mark Nelson of the IRS says, "cash charitable contributions mean you want to make sure you have the proper documentation that shows the name of charity the dollar amount and date of contribution. That is requirement new within the last few years."

Nelson also says when donating goods to places like The Salvation Army or Goodwill make sure you get a receipt and properly value the items.

You can learn more about assigning value at www. IRS.gov.

Also Nelson says, "make sure you are make sure giving to a qualified charity meaning it does have tax exempt status."

You can check that on the I.R.S. website as well.

Lastly, Nelson says remember for all donations to count on your 2012 tax return they must be donated by December 31st.

And if you want to know what to donate, Goodwill published this list of the top 10 goods that can be donated:

10.    Computers: At the end of their useful life computers can be donated at your local Goodwill store and recycled via Goodwill’s Dell Reconnect partnership.  100% of consumer electronics donated to Goodwill are responsibly recycled.  For more information, visit www.goodwillpc.org

9.      Kitchenware:   Gently used kitchenware can be donated at most Goodwill donation locations. To find the donation site in your community, go to www.goodwillnwnc.org.

8.      Video Games: A donation of 10 video games can provide 47 minutes of on-the-job training.

7.      Books:  Donating 15 books can provide 26 minutes of career counseling.

6.      CDs: If all of your songs are saved on hard drives and mp3 players, do you really need those hundreds of old CDs that are taking up space in the back of your closet?

5.      Cell phones: Unused cell phones are one of the fastest-growing types of trash in America. Instead of discarding your old phone, recycle or donate it. Donors should be sure to delete personal data before donating.

4.      Household items: It’s time to give that lamp a new life.Lamps, frames, vases, knick-knacks, baskets, and collectibles are just a few of the many items that you can donate to Goodwill.

3.        Bikes: Goodwill and other thrift stores take big-ticket items like bikes. When your children have outgrown theirs, or you’ve moved on to a new bike, consider donating.

2.      Gift Cards: Billions of dollars in holiday gift cards go unused every year. You can donate an unwanted gift card — with any unused amount on it — to your local Goodwill.

1.        Clothes: Suits, pants, dresses, shirts. You name it, we’ll take it. Donating clothes not only funds job training programs, but also provides new outfits for the job seekers Goodwill serves.