This is a good time to review the rules for issuing year-end charitable contribution statements.
Charitable contributions must be reported and claimed in the year in which they are delivered to the charity. If you receive cash or a check after December 31st, it should not be included on the donor’s 2018 contribution statement. This is true even if the check is dated in December, but delivered in January.
For the purpose of determining the delivery date, a contribution that is mailed (postmarked) by December 31st, 2018 is considered delivered by that date and can be included on the donor’s 2018 contribution statement. However, if you receive a check in 2018 that is dated in January 2019, it must be held until 2019 and recorded as a 2019 contribution.
Not following these rules can jeopardize the tax exempt status of the church.
Each contribution statement should include the following statement: “No goods or services were provided in exchange for these contribution, except for intangible religious benefits.”
We suggest that you advise your donors to not file their 2018 income tax return until they have received a written acknowledgment of their contributions from the church. Under IRS rules, they may lose the deduction if they file their tax return before receiving the written acknowledgment from the church.