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Basketball fans everywhere were on the edge of their seats this weekend as Notre Dame nearly ended Kentucky’s perfect season in a nail biter. After the game, brackets everywhere remained mostly intact and folks who had picked Kentucky to win it all in the office pool breathed a sigh of relief.
I’m fifth in my pool right now but statistically, I could still finish second (thanks Villanova). Lucky for me, I didn’t bet money on the games. As much as I love sports – especially my ACC basketball – I don’t have the stomach for gambling. I am, after all, the same girl who gambled $1.50 all week in Vegas. I hate to lose. And I really hate to lose money.
If, however, you’re one of the millions of taxpayers who do like to gamble on a casual basis, take heart. When it comes to taxes, the rules for casual gamblers aren’t terribly complicated.
The law requires you to report your gambling winnings no matter what the amount or whether it’s a legal bet. There’s no exception for illegal wagers: income is income so far as the Internal Revenue Service is concerned. Casual gamblers report their winnings on line 21 (other income) of a federal form 1040; the form 1040-EZ isn’t equipped to handle gambling winnings.
But what if you, like me, lose? Unfortunately, while you must claim all gambling winnings on your return, you can only deduct your losses if you itemize your deductions on a Schedule A. If you do not file a Schedule A, you cannot deduct your gambling losses, no matter how much you lose.
If you do itemize your deductions, you must be able to document your losses. You need to substantiate the amount of the loss, the date of the loss and the name and location of the gambling establishment. Be smart and keep a journal of your gambling wins and losses: chances are, your buddies at the office aren’t going to be in the mood to issue you a form 1099-G. Ditto for your extra large bookie in the bar corner.
What if you lose more than you win? Sadly, you’re out of luck. Not only does it stink to keep losing, you cannot deduct more in losses than you report in winnings.
To keep you on your toes this tax season, we have a fun giveaway. You can win a version of the newly updated edition of Tax Help For Gamblers, available exclusively as an e-book. In the book, you’ll find out how to report gambling wins and losses including those winnings from fantasy sports, figure out how to get your tax docs online and get the latest updates on court rulings and new rules for reporting and deducting funds. The book is authored by Jean Scott, who is a veritable spokesperson for low-rolling gamblers nationwide.
To enter to win, just answer this question:

Who did (or do) you pick to win the NCAA Tournament?

Entries must be posted in the comments section for this blog post in the space below by 10:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. It’s just that easy. You don’t have to choose the actual tourney winner. I’ll simply choose two winners randomly (using a number generator) out of all of the qualifying entries: each winner will receive a version of e-Book on a platform of your choosing.
Be sure and read the fine print for more rules because, as you know, I’m a lawyer and I like rules:

  • Don’t panic if your comment doesn’t show immediately. If it goes to moderation because, for example, you’re new here, the time stamp on your comment is what counts.
  • I love my Twitter followers and my Facebook fans but for this particular giveaway, tweets and Facebook comments will not be counted. Ditto for emails. You must leave your comment on the blog at this specific post.
  • Offensive comments or comments that otherwise violate the comment policy will be deleted and will not be considered valid for purposes of the contest. Similarly, pingbacks and other links will be disregarded for purposes of the contest.
  • I will need your full name and your email address: be sure to use your real information when you register to leave a comment. I won’t publish your email address but I do need contact information for the winning entry. If you win and I can’t reach you, it’s a forfeit.
  • Due to shipping and legal considerations, you must have a valid United States address. Sorry, Canada, eh?
  • I respect your privacy and I will not send you anything unrelated to your entry in this contest. By entering the contest, you agree that I may post any part or all of your submission including your name as a part of the contest announcements or promotions, with the exception of your email address.
  • Like Judge Judy, my determination is final.
  • Prizes are provided directly by the authors, publishers and/or PR folks are not exchangeable or redeemable for other prizes. Those providing prizes do not pay for placement and do not receive any compensation for contributions – neither do I! I have no affiliation, paid or otherwise, with any of those providing prizes.
  • If you aren’t allowed to participate in giveaways because of the laws in your state or your age or an agreement you’ve made with your mother, consider this giveaway not applicable to you. In other words: void where prohibited or restricted.
  • Finally, the giveaway is about me, me, me. It’s not affiliated with or endorsed by Forbes. So leave them out of it, okay?

Comment away!

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: The contest is now closed. That said, feel free to keep adding haiku!)
Tax season officially opens on Tuesday. Why not get started with some free tax software – and a whole lot of fun? It’s my mostly annual and wildly popular taxgirl® Tax Haiku!
As with the last few years, the good folks at TaxAct are donating tax preparation software as prizes. This year, they’re giving me fifteen (15) versions of TaxACT Online Deluxe to give away. Features include:

  • Prepare, print & e-file your federal return from any browser on a computer or tablet.
  • Time-saving imports for last year’s return, W-2s, 1099s, investments, K-1s & donations.
  • Tips & strategies in Life Events, TaxTutor Guidance & HealthWatch.
  • Maximize your deduction for donations with Donation Assistant® – includes more than 1,300 audit-backed values.
  • Personalized help every step of the way in the Answer Center, online, email & phone.
  • Save digital copies of tax documents, receipts & photos with your return.
  • Get the status of your e-filed return & IRS refund 24/7 with Tax Return Status, TaxACT’s free app for iOS & Android.
  • Optional state return $8 (reg. $14.99).

To enter, write a tax haiku (俳句). Trust me, it’s easy. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. The good part? It’s short. Traditional haiku consists of 17 syllables. The English version in a pattern of three 5-7-5. Haiku in English is usually written in three lines, like this:

Hiding funds offshore?
IRS will hunt you down.
Why not come clean now?

Or

No health care this year?
Must cough up tax penalty.
No real cure for that.

Or

IRS audit
Not fun, not cheap, not for weak
Call an attorney.

See? Super easy. And fun – trust me, you’ll get addicted.
You don’t have to be great at it. It doesn’t have to rhyme. It doesn’t have to make me swoon. It just has to be in the 5-7-5 pattern (so being able to count is a plus) and focus on tax. Any kind of tax. Income tax. NIIT. Affordable Care Act. FATCA. Sales tax. Tax reform. It’s all good.
I’ll choose fifteen winners at random from all of the entries on the blog in the comments below, twitter (@taxgirl), Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Tumblr. Be sure and read the rules at the bottom of this post for important details.
Here are some more haiku from years for inspiration:

Taxes due again?
Where are the good deductions?
Phased out – too much dough.

AMT is due
only for the rich, they claim.
Then why do I owe?

Estate tax repeal.
It’s not going to happen.
Empty Treasury.

Section 1-6-2
You allow me to expense
I think I love you.

Senator Baucus,
Will we see tax reform now?
Or in our lifetime?

And my favorite ->

It’s done, Switzerland.
No more banking secrecy.
Now you just have cheese.

It’s no fun if you don’t play along! Give it a whirl. Again, simply use 5 syllables – 7 syllables – 5 syllables. It’s so easy, even a member of Congress can do it!
Don’t forget to read the rules. Remember, I’m a lawyer, I like rules:

  • Entries must be posted in the comments below or social media (more below) by 11:59 a.m. EST on January 20, 2015. That’s Tuesday, early afternoon, in order to accommodate the folks out west and folks who receive my blog via feed.
  • To participate via Twitter, tweet your haiku @taxgirl and use the hashtag #taxhaiku. It is okay to shorten your tweet using tinyurl, bitly, etc. but you must use the hashtag #taxhaiku.
  • To participate via Facebook, post on my taxgirl page.
  • If you’re feeling extremely creative, you can post on YouTube, Pinterest or Tumblr. Make sure if you post on my YouTube channel, Pinterest board or Tumblr page to ping me so that I know it happened.
  • Don’t panic if your comment on Forbes doesn’t show immediately. If it goes to moderation because, for example, you’re new here, the time stamp on your comment is what counts.
  • You can enter as many times – and in as many places – as you like but you must leave a different haiku each time you comment.
  • Email entries or notes directly to my feed are fun but will not count for purposes of the contest.
  • Offensive comments or comments that otherwise violate the comment policy will be deleted and will not be considered valid for purposes of the contest. My mother might be reading. And you know how I feel about my mom reading inappropriate comments.
  • Pingbacks and other links will be disregarded for purposes of the contest.
  • I must be be able to contact you via email or direct message for purposes of awarding prizes. That means you must have a valid email address. I won’t publish your email address but I do need contact information for the winning entry. If you play via social media, make sure I can find you. If I can’t contact you within 48 hours, I’ll choose another winner.
  • I respect your privacy and I will not send you anything unrelated to your entry in this contest.
  • By entering the contest, you agree that I may post any part or all of your submission including your name as a part of the contest announcements or promotions, with the exception of your email address.
  • Prizes are provided directly by TaxAct and are not exchangeable or redeemable for other prizes. Sponsors on the site do not pay for placement and do not receive any compensation for contributions – neither do I! I have no affiliation, paid or otherwise, with TaxAct.
  • If you aren’t allowed to participate in giveaways because of the laws in your state or your age or an agreement you’ve made with your mother, consider this giveaway not applicable to you. In other words: void where prohibited or restricted.
  • Finally, the giveaway is about me, me, me. It’s not affiliated with or endorsed by Forbes. So leave them out of it, okay?

Haiku away.

It’s the twelfth day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is PAWS NY. The mission of PAWS NY is to preserve, support, and nurture the human-animal bond for New York City’s most vulnerable residents. The programs at PAWS NY help keep pets in homes while protecting and promoting the human-animal bond that is so physically and psychologically valuable to PAW NY clients. Their motto is: helping people by helping pets.
PAWS NY services are designed to help our clients overcome the physical and financial limitations they face caring for their animal companions. This includes seniors and those with an illness or disability who are struggling with the day to day care of a pet.
The core program for PAWS NY services is on-site home visits. Visits generally include: dog walking, litter maintenance, medication administration, and provision of food and water. Services do not include adoption or placement services; spay or neuter services; temporary boarding or veterinary care (except for those in the housecoat program).
In order to qualify for services, individuals must be a senior citizen, or individual suffering from a temporary or permanent disability or illness as a resident of the City of New York with a maximum gross monthly income of no more than $1,850.
So how can you help?
You can make an online donation. You can also donate via regular mail. Please mail a check (made out to PAWS) to:
PAWS NY
240 Kent Avenue, 3rd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Phone: (212) 203 – 4760
(As of this writing, the organization is 75% towards meeting their fundraising goal!)
Many companies offer a matching gift program to encourage philanthropy among their employees. Check with your HR department to see if your employer participates. Remember, however, that while your gift to the organization is doubled, you can only take a charitable deduction for the portion you donate.
You can also donate appreciated stock directly to PAWS NY. Visit Stock Donator and select PAWS NY. The great thing about donating appreciated stock is that not only can you deduct the fair market value of the stock as a charitable donation but the appreciation escapes tax: you don’t pay any capital gains taxes. By way of example, let’s say you bought stock for $1 that is now worth $10. If you sold 100 shares of the stock and then wrote a check for the entire proceeds, you’d claim a $1,000 tax deduction but most taxpayers would also pay Uncle Sam $135 in capital gains [15% x ($1000 sale proceeds less $100 basis)]; rates are a little lower or higher depending on your bracket. That means you’re actually out of pocket $1,135 but again, only get the $1,000 tax deduction. In contrast, if you donated 100 shares of the same stock, you’d claim the $1,000 tax deduction – and pay no capital gains. You’re only out of pocket $1,000, the same as your deduction. When the organization the liquidates the stock, it, too, pays no capital gains since it’s tax exempt, so the entire amount goes to charity.
PAWS NY also accepts in-kind donations of pet food and supplies for the Pet Pantry as well as other items. Please contact us at info@pawsny.org to make arrangements. Remember that the value of your in-kind donation is limited to the fair market value (generally, the cost you pay for new items). Keep good receipts from the store and get a receipt from PAWS NY if you intend to claim a charitable deduction.
PAWS NY depends on volunteers. If you love working with people and pets, then PAWS NY might be the right organization for you. Volunteer opportunities include the Housecall Program (care for a client’s pet in their home, such as dog walking or helping with the litter box); Pet Pantry/On-Call Program (collect/distribute pet food/supplies, become a Pet Pantry Sponsor, transport pets to the vet, and other one-off client needs); Foster Care (foster an animal in your home when a client is hospitalized); Events and Outreach (assist at events and help to raise Professional Expertise (offer your unique professional skills to help grow the organization). For information about volunteer requirements, email info@pawsny.org or call 212.203.4760.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that PAWS NY is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

It’s the eleventh day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more days to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is Phantom Projects Theatre Group.
Phantom Projects isn’t children’s theatre, it’s powerful theatre aimed at one of the hardest audiences to reach.
Phantom Projects began in 1996 when 17 year old Steve Cisneros, then a high school senior, directed No Way to Treat a Lady, a play penned by Bruce Gevirtzman, that dealt with teen pregnancy prevention. By the time Cisneros was 19, he had a hand in creating two other shows, one about drug/alcohol prevention and the other about prejudice and racism. Those three shows toured to middle schools and high schools in southern California and featured real teens and a post-show discussion. It was, as Cisneros says, “the ultimate peer education program, as young people got to learn and hear from other young people.”
Today, Phantom Projects still uses theatre as a teaching tool – but now uses incorporates literature, as well. In addition to those touring shows, the organization now does shows based on popular books, such as The Outsiders, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Giver. Those shows are made available for only $7-$8 per seat: those prices have only been raised three times in 18 years.
Each year, Phantom Projects works with nearly 100 performers who give their heart and soul to the shows, donating their time, so that the shows can inspire, educate and motivate young audiences.
So how can you help?
Phantom Projects hopes to raise $25,000 this season to keep performers on stage and youth in the audience. You can help them reach their goal by making an online donation.
You can also volunteer your time.
Since 40% of the organization’s financial support comes from the sale of tickets, why not see a show? You can buy individual tickets here or season tickets here for shows at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada, California. Remember that you don’t get a charitable deduction for tax purposes when you receive something of value that’s equal to the check you’re writing. That means that buying tickets at face value yields no charitable deduction. However, if you round up (say, giving $50 for the $35 season tickets), the amount that you donate to the organization in excess of what you receive would be deductible.
Additionally, if you buy tickets not for personal use but for another charitable organization (say, the Girl Scouts or a local school), that amount would be deductible. Be sure to ask about details from not only Phantom Projects (Call 714.690.2900 for information about group sales) but also the charitable organization you intend to support. You would get the charitable donation and support Phantom Projects with tickets sales – a win-win!
If you donate cash or tickets, be sure to get a receipt if you intend to claim a charitable deduction.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that Phantom Projects is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

It’s the eleventh day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is CaringBridge.
The first CaringBridge site started in 1997 when founder Sona Mehring created a website to keep folks informed about her friends’ premature baby, Brighid. The site allowed Brighid’s family to communicate information to family around the world, regardless of time or place, by posting daily journal entries; in return, concerned friends and loved ones could send messages of hope and support.
That idea became CaringBridge: today, more than 500,000 users per day share stories, comfort, love and strength in their hour of need using technology. In addition to posting photos, videos and updates of those who are ill or in recovery, the online planner helps coordinate and schedule tasks such as delivering meals, providing childcare and arranging transportation.
There have been more than 1.8 billion visits to CaringBridge communities since the organization was founded (downloads as a pdf).
There is no outside advertising. CaringBridge instead relies on donations.
So how can you help?
CaringBridge is always looking for volunteers. You can:
Share CaringBridge in your community by speaking
Tell your CaringBridge story
Talk about CaringBridge on Facebook
Become a Twitter Advocate
Thank those who have contributed via the Gratitude Project
Provide customer care
Almost all of these opportunities require little time and even less expense. Remember that you can’t deduct the value of your time on your income taxes. You can, however, deduct reasonable and related out of pocket expenses.
You can make a cash donation online. You can also download a form as a pdf to send your donation in by mail:
CaringBridge
Donation Processing Center
PO Box 6032
Albert Lea, MN 56007-6632
You can also donate by phone by calling 651-789-2300.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that CaringBridge is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

It’s the ninth day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is March of Dimes. March of Dimes helps moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies.
March of Dimes was founded more than 75 years ago by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to polio; Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio and unable to walk. March of Dimes, formerly called the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, was a partnership between scientists and volunteers to fund and support research and education efforts in the fight against polio. Their efforts helped develop the Salk and Sabin. They were so successful that polio was nearly eradicated in the United States. (annual report downloads as a pdf) As a result, the organization focused its energies on the prenatal and neonatal care for infants and changed its name to March of Dimes, a nod to a fundraising event inviting children to donate a dime.
Today, March of Dimes still promotes healthy babies – including reducing premature births. According to the organization, about 450,000 babies are born too soon each year. In the United States, 1 in 9 babies born too soon, a rate which is higher than that of most high-income countries. You can view your state’s premature birth report card here.
This year, Kelly Clarkson (winner of American Idol’s first season), serves as a celebrity ambassador for March of Dimes youth leadership initiatives. In her role, Kelly uses her voice to generate awareness of the mission and volunteer opportunities for the March of Dimes. She also makes significant donations of her time and talent and has been recognized as top March for Babies walker, raising tens of thousands of dollars through March for Babies. Kelly’s fan message board also donates to the March of Dimes each year in honor of Kelly’s birthday.
So how can you help?
You can make a cash donation online.
You can also walk in March for Babies to give hope to nearly half a million babies born too soon each year. The money you raise supports programs in your community that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten our babies. March of Dimes volunteers have been walking since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2.3 billion to benefit all babies.
This year, 3 million people will join their family, friends and colleagues in nearly 700 communities across the nation. You can find an event near you here.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that March of Dimes is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

It’s the eighth day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is Give Kids A Smile. Give Kids A Smile provides dental care for underserved children.
Over 40% of Americans skip the dentist every year: the percentage goes up to 70% for those in poor households. By the numbers, 53% of all 6-8 year olds have tooth decay and tooth decay is dramatically on the rise for children ages 0-5 years old. Think it’s not a serious problem? Over 52 million school hours and over 140 million work hours are missed each year due to dental problems.
Give Kids A Smile started in St. Louis, Missouri, opening its first clinic in February of 2002. Give Kids A Smile provides clinics twice a year at St. Louis University – kids receive comprehensive dental care, home hygiene materials, education materials, lunch and fun. Since February of 2002, Give Kids A Smile has served 13,521 Patients, donating services worth $6,850,354.
So how can you help?
Give Kids A Smile can use your cash donations to offset the expenses of providing care to children in the community. The process of providing dental care is expensive due to the cost of dental equipment, materials and supplies (all services of the dentists, hygienists, and staff are donated).
You can make a cash donation online. Make all donations payable to Give Kids A Smile, Inc. and send to:
Give Kids A Smile
340-A Mid Rivers Mall Drive
St. Peters, MO 63376
You can also sponsor a child. It costs approximately $100 to provide comprehensive dental care at an event: expenses include dental and general supplies, home care needs such as tooth brushes, floss, and toothpaste, educational materials, a sack lunch for the children as they return to their schools and homes, prizes and transportation. When you sponsor a child, your name will be placed on a banner of heroes in the reception area of St. Louis University Center for Advanced Dental Education during the event.
You can also make in-kind donations. Chances are that most taxpayers don’t have Lidocaine 2% with 1:100,000 epinephrine anesthetic or Carbocaine 3% without epinephrine anesthetic – but you might have trash bags, plates and napkins to donate.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that Give Kids A Smile is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

It’s the seventh day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is Doorways for Women and Families. Doorways for Women and Families offers a variety of services to help women and children leave situations where they are exposed to or victims of domestic violence.
This year, it seems like more people were talking about domestic violence after sports figures like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson made headlines for their behaviors. In some parts of the country, like Northern Virginia, people have been having those conversations for some time. That’s because domestic violence is nothing new and affects hundreds of thousands of families each year. Statistically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice report that, around the world, at least one in every four women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, an abuser will hit their partner an average of 35 times before police are notified for the first time. Sometimes, the violence turns deadly: in 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner.
Women and children who live in families with violence also live in fear. If they can find the courage to leave, they often find that there is nowhere to go, offering few choices. Shelters are often filled to capacity; estimates indicate that, in one year, 2,000 women seeking shelter from domestic violence were turned away due to lack of space or resources.
Doorways for Women and Families offers resources for families affected by domestic violence. Through the Doorways Safehouse, women and children can find a confidential place to stay when faced with imminent danger from an intimate partner. The 24-Hour Confidential Domestic Violence Hotline offers trained staff and volunteers who provide crisis intervention, safety planning, support, counseling and immediate assistance for abuse survivors; the hotline also serves as a community resource for families, friends, and service providers. The Court Advocacy Program provides assistance and guidance with respect to protective orders, child custody and support. And finally, the Doorways Safehouse Kennel offers shelter for animals fleeing abusive homes with their owners since many shelters will not accommodate pets.
So how can you help?
Doorways for Women and Families relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers. Volunteer opportunities include Family Home and Safehouse Coverage Volunteers who answer the hotline, provide support to individuals and families in crisis and assist staff in the day-to-day operations of the shelter; Children’s Volunteers who assist with evening childcare during weekly support groups and parenting classes or monthly dinner programs; interpreters; Administrative Support Volunteers; grocery shoppers and storage volunteers. All individual volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, complete 40 hours of training and a background check.
While you can’t deduct the value of your time while volunteering, you can deduct any related out of pocket expenses. That includes the cost of travel to and from the volunteer site: charitable mileage is deductible at 14 cents per mile. You can also deduct actual volunteer related transportation costs including bus or train fare. Keep a mileage log, or transportation receipts, to support your deduction claim.
If the organization where you volunteer requires background clearances and/or fingerprinting – but doesn’t cover the cost – those costs are deductible, too. Again, you’ll want to keep good records.
Doorways for Women and Families welcomes cash donations. To make a donation via mail, please make check payable to Doorways for Women and Families and mail to:
PO Box 100185
Arlington, VA 22210
You can also make a donation online. A receipt for your donation will be sent to you via email address; keep a copy of your receipt for tax purposes. If you choose to make a recurring donation, you will be sent an individual receipt each month when your donation is processed.
Between now and December 31, 2014, an anonymous donor has agreed to match your donation, $1 for $1, up to $50,000. That means that your gift to the organization will be doubled – for example, your $100 check is worth $200. Of course, your donation for income tax purposes is limited to what you pay out of pocket – and not the match – but the organization gets twice the benefit. For more information, check out the announcement.
You can also organize a cell phone drive. Doorways for Women and Families has partnered with Cellular Recycler. You can host a collection drive at work, church or anywhere else in the community to collect old phones (as well as iPods, digital cameras, gaming consuls, and PDAs) and turn them into cash for the organization. Recycling your phone will provide the needed funds to give a home to those fleeing abuse or homelessness. For more information, click here.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that Doorways For Women and Families is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

It’s the sixth day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is The Fugees Family. The Fugees Family is devoted to working with child survivors of war. The organization uses soccer as a way to reach out to refugee children living in the United States.
The Fugees Family began ten years ago when Coach Luma Mufleh started a Fugees team to provide refugee boys with free access to organized soccer. Today, the organization offers year-round soccer for 90 boys and girls aged 10-18, after-school tutoring, soccer for 50 elementary-aged students, an academic enrichment summer camp, and the Fugees Academy, the only school in the country dedicated to refugee education.
Kickstarting education is important for these children since prior to their arrival in the United States, many have been confined to refugee camps where education was not a priority. The Fugees Academy helps students transition to education and away from isolation. As a result, refugee children not only catch up, they thrive.
All soccer coaching is done in English to help improve language skills (many of the children’s families are illiterate or do not speak English at home). Currently 94 boys and girls, ages 11 to 18, from 23 different countries play soccer with the Fugees Family. To continue to play soccer with their teammates, the children must perform satisfactorily in school. Students attend tutoring sessions to keep up and in summer, in partnership with Agnes Scott College, The Fugees Family operates a summer academic program focused on language and math, the arts, and physical fitness.
You can learn more about the Fugees Family from this CBS News Clip – that’s how the reader who submitted this nomination learned about the organization.
So how can you help?
The Fugees Family is always looking to form relationships with organizations and businesses that provide meaningful support to our mission. If you are interested in partnering with The Fugees Family, please contact support@fugeesfamily.org.
The Fugees Family welcomes cash and in-kind donations. To make an in-kind donation, check out the organization’s Amazon wish list. Remember to save receipts from purchases for non-cash donations in order to support your charitable deductions.
You can make a cash donation to help fund scholarships. Donations are accepted by credit card and through Paypal. Remember to annotate your credit card bill to support your deduction – and get a receipt to support your tax deduction.
Finally, you can shop for awesome Fugees Fan gear at our store. Remember that when you purchase merchandise, you don’t get to claim a charitable deduction – even if the proceeds are going to a great cause. If you round your purchase up, or make an additional donation, anything over fair market value may be a charitable donation. Be sure to get a receipt.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that Fugees Family Inc. is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
The Fugees Family is located in Georgia. In addition to the opportunity to claim a federal income tax deduction for your donations, Georgia residents and businesses have the option to redirect a portion of their state income tax – up to $1,000 for individuals and up to $10,000 for pass through entities – to scholarships for students at a private school of their choice. It is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. For more information and limitations, check out this page and consult with your tax professional. The Fugees staff is also willing to come to your home or office to discuss the specifics. Contact Lara Wagner (lara@fugeesfamily.org or (404) 398-9562).
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

It’s the fifth day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. City of Asylum/Pittsburgh offers sanctuary to endangered literary writers so that they can continue to write.
City of Asylum has roots back to 1989 when, after publication of his novel The Satanic Verses, a fatwa was issued by the Supreme Leader of Iran that ordered the killing of its author, Salman Rushdie, forcing into hiding. In 1993, a group of writers led by Rushdie formed the International Parliament of Writers which provided one to two years of support for endangered writers in exile. The specific cities in Europe were called “Cities of Asylum.” Four years later, Rushdie gave a talk in Pittsburgh and spoke about the Cities of Asylum network. Diane Samuels and Henry Reese heard Rushdie’s talk and wrote to Cities of Asylum in Europe about starting a chapter in Pittsburgh.
In 2004, City of Asylum/Pittsburgh officially opened its doors. Today, City of Asylum provides an exiled writer and the writer’s family with a house, a stipend, medical benefits, and other assistance including an immigration attorney.
Exiled writers who have been in residence include:
2004-2006: Huang Xiang (China)
2006-2009: Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador)
2008- 2011: Khet Mar (Burma)
2011- present: Israel Centeno (Venezuela)
Visiting international writers in residence include:
2007: Vijay Nair (India)
2008: Glaydah Namukasa (Uganda)
2009: Maxine Case (South Africa), Marius Ivaskevicius (Lithuania),
Irakli Kakabadze (Georgia)
2010: Billy Kahora (Kenya), Beverly Perez-Rego (Venezuela)
2011: Fabienne Kanor (France), Marvin Victor (Haiti)
2012: Vijay Nair (India, Fulbright Scholar), Barlen Pyamootoo (Mauritius)
City of Asylum also presents readings, concerts and literary events featuring international literary authors, local musicians and writers of interest in many genres. Annual performances and literary events include the Jazz-Poetry Concert, Writers in the Gardens, and Cave Canem Poets Reading.
So how can you help?
You can make a donation online. You can also send a donation by mail:
City of Asylum/Pittsburgh
330 Sampsonia Way
Pittsburgh PA 15212.
Or over the phone:
412-323-0278
(Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that City of Asylum/Pittsburgh is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts: