I want to help. Can I deduct my GoFundMe contribution?

picture of rain on the side of a house
Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. | Photo by xandtor on Unsplash

GoFundMe is a popular way to support causes you care about and provide financial support to victims and survivors of natural disaster and man-made disasters. A common question is whether these “contributions” are tax-deductible as charitable contributions.

I’ve seen this question recently because so many people from my area of TX were impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey last year and made contributions to different organizations along the Gulf Coast to support the clean up efforts.

Also, yesterday there was another school shooting and I know the community of Santa Fe, TX is going to need financial support. There are a lot of people who need support after an event like this and GoFundMe type campaigns can go a long way to help these communities.

First off, this post is not intended to discourage you from making a financial contribution to help someone in need, if you have the financial resources to do so. However, I do know that some people will actually give more money if they know they’re getting a charitable contribution deduction.

Let’s cut to the chase: your donation is probably not deductible unless your donation is to a GoFundMe Certified Charity Campaign. When donating to one of these GoFundMe Certified Charity Campaigns, GoFundMe has confirmed that the charity is qualified to receive tax-deductible donations and you’ll receive the required tax receipt (hint: give this receipt to your tax preparer).

If you think getting a tax deduction means a lot, think again. According to GoFundMe’s 2015 report, the average donation was $67 and that’s the most recent report I can find. I am assuming the average size hasn’t changed much in the last few years. A $67 donation isn’t going to make a big difference on your tax return, regardless of what tax bracket you fall into. Also, now that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made changes to the standard deduction amounts, being able to deduct your contribution might not matter any more.

The major change that the TCJA tax reform made was to increase the amount of the standard deduction and limit or eliminate some of the itemized deductions. The expected result of these changes is that fewer people will use itemized deductions going forward. Therefore, you’ll need to check with your tax professional to see if you’re still going to be able to deduct your contributions starting in 2018.

If you want to guarantee your donation is deductible, look for one of the GoFundMe Certified Charity Campaigns. However, if you don’t care about the deducting your donation and you’re just giving out of the goodness of your heart, then look for the fund that touches your heart the most.

There are some other ways to get a tax deduction for your contributions.

  • You can research charities using the IRS website to make sure the recipient of your donation is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
  • Another, maybe easier way, is to search online for churches and other local organizations in the community who can make sure your donations go to those most in need.
  • You can also search online for local news agencies in area. Typically, they will have links on their websites to organizations that are raising funds to help the victims of a tragedy.

Like I said earlier, this isn’t supposed to discourage you from making a contribution. I just want to help you make an informed decision when you decide to use your hard-earned money to help out other people who are in need.