Let’s be honest. No one looks forward to doing their taxes. It can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Depending on your situation, you may owe money once you’re done. But it’s not all bad. Most charitable donations you make are tax-deductible, so donating money to good organizations works in your favor. You can choose an organization with a cause close to your heart and help others while also helping yourself.

If you plan on donating to charitable organizations, consider Meals on Wheels. It’s a win-win situation because the money you donate goes to helping people in your community, and you can apply that donation to your taxes.

Donating to Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is a charitable organization under Section 501c(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code. Meals on Wheels is a nationwide organization that operates through local chapters to bring food to homebound seniors in need.

The Contra Costa County chapter gets 83% of its income from individual contributions, which is why donations are such an essential part of the program. When you donate to Meals on Wheels, your contribution subsidizes nutritious meals for over 2,600 homebound seniors in Contra Costa County each day.

Choosing to donate to Meals on Wheels means that you are supporting a great cause that helps some of the most vulnerable citizens in our society. A variety of donation options are available to help you give what you can. These options include:

  • One-time donations
  • Monthly donations
  • Donations through a portion of eBay sales
  • Donating a vehicle
  • Tribute gifts
  • Planned giving
  • Workplace giving
  • Corporate sponsorships

And if you volunteer your time instead of donating money, you can also claim deductions for that. Keep track of expenses relating directly to your volunteer time and claim those. Mileage from driving to and from volunteer opportunities or delivering items is a commonly claimed deduction for volunteers.


How Donating Helps with Your Taxes

Remember that what you can claim on your taxes depends on what state you’re filling in, what organizations you donated to, and how much you donated. Before you donate with the intention of claiming it on your taxes, check with an accountant to ensure you are getting the most out of that donation.

Depending on where you donate, you can deduct anywhere from 20% to 60% of your adjusted gross income in charitable donations. Appreciated assets like property can usually be deducted up to 30% of adjusted gross income. And when you donate vehicles, there are special rules. How much you can claim depends on what the organization does with the vehicle, so be sure to communicate with the organization about how much the vehicle is worth and what it will be used for. For example, if you donate a vehicle and the charity sells it, you can deduct the sale price. But if they use it, you can deduct the market value. 

Your deduction applies to all of the donations you’ve made during the year you are filing for, and if you exceed the limit for that year, you can usually use a carryover and deduct the total from your taxes over the next five years.

How Much Should You Give?

How much you donate really depends on your individual financial situation. Give whatever you are able to give comfortably, but remember that there are state and federal minimums you must meet to qualify for deductions.

You can only reduce your tax bill if you choose to itemize your taxes instead of taking the standard deduction. You should itemize your taxes when you anticipate that the combined total of your deductions will be more than the standard deduction.

But that means you can include other deductions, including mortgage interest, taxes, and medical expenses. These can all be itemized together for your deduction.

Federal and State Regulations

There are a lot of regulations surrounding how much you have to give, what organizations count, and what documentation you need. So do your research, keep records of everything, and consult an accountant when in doubt.

Usually, you’ll need a tax receipt to prove your donation, so save everything and ensure you get the proper documentation from the organization to which you donate. You may even need a qualified appraisal for non-cash gifts, so keep that in mind.

Be careful when you’re itemizing your deductions. Not all nonprofits qualify for deductions on their donations. They must be registered as a charitable organization under Section 501c(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code. If you’re not sure if an organization qualifies or not, use the IRS search tool to find out or ask the organization directly.

You also need to remember that all donations must be processed by the organization by the end of the year, or they don’t qualify for that year’s taxes. Keep a close eye on dates when you’re getting close to the end of the year to ensure you don’t claim anything that actually belongs on the following year’s taxes.

Doing something selfless, like volunteering, gives you a sense of fulfillment or meaning. When you do something bigger than yourself, you feel like a part of something, and your life has more purpose.

Where Does Your Meals on Wheels Donation Go?

When you donate to Meals on Wheels, most of it goes straight into program services, meals, and delivery. These account for 76% of the total budget. 23% goes to fundraising expenses and 1% to administration costs. Most of what you donate will go directly to helping people in need.

Meals on Wheels is focused on delivering meals to homebound seniors who cannot cook nutritious meals for themselves or cannot go grocery shopping to get food. Money from donations helps put together meal programs that ensure that each senior gets enough food and that the meals are healthy and nutritionally balanced. These meal programs are designed with the help of dietitians and expert nutritionists to ensure they meet seniors’ recommended daily nutrient intake. Each meal contains the target value of minerals, fats, sodium, and fiber. Donations also go toward buying the actual food since the program’s recipients are encouraged to contribute to meals, but no one is turned away because they cannot afford to pay. 

Consider Meals on Wheels For Your Charitable Donation

If you’ve been thinking about donating to a good cause, consider Meals on Wheels. Your donation will go to helping seniors in need, and you can add your donation to your tax deduction and get some money off your taxes. Your deduction is made up of all of your charitable contributions from the year plus any other deductions you can claim, so if the total comes out to more than the standard deduction, it is worth the extra time to file an itemized deduction. 

Remember to research and talk to each nonprofit you donate to because you can claim different amounts depending on the organization and amount you donate. The rules and regulations differ depending on where you file your taxes, so consult an accountant to clarify when you file your taxes.  

And, of course, don’t let taxes and deductions stop you from donating to a cause close to your heart. If you only donate a little each year, it may not be worth it to claim that on your taxes, but you are still helping those in need and making the world a better place, one donation at a time.