Charitable contributions made to a qualifying organization are deductible on personal tax returns. Tithes represent contributions made to a church or other religious organization. Such an organization will most likely hold a tax-exempt certificate, allowing contributors to deduct tithes and gifts from their taxes. While individuals will not directly get back the money paid in tithe, they do receive a tax deduction for 100 percent of gifts given to religious organizations.
How to Claim
Individuals must itemize their deductions in order to claim the charitable contribution tax deduction. The Internal Revenue Service requires individuals to fill out Form 1040A for itemized deductions. In the fourth section of the form, individuals should list the gross amount they gave to all qualifying institutions, including religious organizations.
Proper documentation is necessary to claim tithes exceeding $250 as a charitable contribution. Most churches provide a statement or letter to all individuals giving tithes. Religious organizations can only list properly identified tithes; placing cash in the offering plate, for example, will not be on the report because churches will not know who gave this money. Paying tithes by check creates a legitimate bank record that individuals can use to claim a tax deduction.
Receiving benefits for a tithe can reduce the amount individual claim as charitable contributions. For example, if you receive merchandise or other goods in exchange for tithe, you can claim a tax deduction only for gifts that exceeded the merchandise’s fair market value. Churches often indicate on their tax documentation letter that individuals received no benefit for their tithe, other than intangible spiritual benefits.
Other donations — such as cars, clothing or other property — are deductible as a charitable contribution. Individuals can report these items at fair market value in order to claim them as an itemized deduction. You'll need an official donation record or other document to prove the transaction. Individuals should fill out Form 8283 for items given exceeding $500; goods over $5,000 need a proper appraisal before the giver can claim the tax deduction.