Ask the taxgirl: Cookies at Christmas

Taxpayer asks:

My daughter and I make cookies every year to give out at our local VA hospital at Christmas. Can we take a deduction for this on our taxes?

taxgirl says:

As a mom, I think what you’re doing is terrific. And as the sister of military personnel (one lifer, one retired), I think what you’re doing is super terrific.

From a tax perspective, you can only deduct donations made to qualified charitable organizations, not to individuals. So in order to properly claim a deduction, you’re going to want to get a receipt from the VA hospital. I’m assuming you have gotten clearances from somebody there – talk to that person about how to get a proper receipt for your donation.

That said, depending on how many cookies you’re distributing, your actual donation might not be that significant. This is because the value of your donation will be the cost of the materials used to make the cookies – your time to make the cookies and then distribute them won’t be taken into consideration. You can’t deduct the cost of your time (or services) for charity, even if you can easily quantify them.

Of course, don’t forget that any other out of pocket expenses, including mileage (14 cents per mile in 2010 and 2011) and parking fees, are also deductible.

At the end of the day, any deduction for this wonderful thing that you’re doing will likely be fairly minimal. But I do hope that won’t dissuade you from continuing to do it. These small acts of kindness? They remind us all that there is still so much goodness in the world.

Like any good lawyer, I need to add a disclaimer: unfortunately, it is impossible to offer comprehensive tax info over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. And remember, I love my readers but having me bookmarked on your computer doesn’t make you a client: before relying on any information given on this site, contact a tax professional to discuss your particular situation.

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2 thoughts on “Ask the taxgirl: Cookies at Christmas

  1. Sorry to put this here, but I don’t want to ask this question on Facebook and I don’t have Twitter.

    My partner and I are having a commitment ceremony at the end of the year. The state we live in doesn’t have civil unions or same-sex marraige currently. How would you recommend we set ourselves up, tax-wise? Are there any financial precautions you believe we should take?


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