Donations are rolling in to area charities as 2007 rolls out.
Because gifts to nonprofit organizations are tax-deductible, many area agencies and churches are seeing up to 30 percent increases this week as donors try to shave a few more pennies from their 2007 tax bills. For many agencies, the week between Christmas and the Dec. 31 deadline is the busiest period of the year for tax-deductible donations.
Here's a look at how to claim a last-second write-off, what to donate and some tips for boosting your tax refund:
Give it away
• Electronics swap: If Santa brought that new laptop or video game console, think about donating the old system to charity. Bo Hussey, vice president of marketing for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, said Goodwill stores accept used electronics to either refurbish or sell for parts.
Equipment in good condition is sold at a special Computer Works store off Freedom Drive in Charlotte. The money is used to pay for job training programs for the unemployed. Goodwill and similar thrift stores also accept clothing, household items and large ticket items such as appliances and even cars. Officials expect to collect more than 90,000 donations by the end of the month. Most donations are tax-deductible.
Home Improvement: Habitat for Humanity accepts construction and household items for resale at its Anderson Road store. If you're considering buying a new appliance or installing new fixtures around the house, do it now, donate the old to Habitat and write it off. Habitat will even pick it up in its moving truck for free.
• Give to God: While area churches depend on tithes and offerings all year, many collect special offerings at the end of the year. Gifts to church building or capital improvement funds also are tax-deductible. If you're a regular giver who tithes monthly, consider giving your January tithe this Sunday so you can claim it on your 2007 tax return.
Not a giver? That's OK. Here are some ideas from Bankrate.com, a free online financial service, on how to trim your 2007 tax bill as time runs out.
• Pay your January mortgage a few days early. January's interest can be written off in 2007 if received by your lender by Monday.
• Go green. Energy efficiency improvements to your home can be tax deductible if made before Jan. 1. You can claim up to $500 for replacing drafty windows and doors. Up to $2,000 can be claimed for installing a solar-powered hot water heater.
• Buy a hybrid car. Tax breaks between $250 and $3,000 are available for certain hybrid car purchases made before the end of the year. Toyota and Lexus hybrids no longer qualify, but Honda hybrids are still eligible. If you wait until 2008, the credit for a Honda hybrid will be cut in half.
• Stock up on school supplies. Teachers and school employees can claim up to $250 in deductions for school supplies purchased before Dec. 31. A similar write-off is available for home-based businesses and supplies for your job, so buy your new office computer before Jan. 1 and you can write it off this year.
Want to learn more?
Check out the Web site www.IRS.gov for more federal income tax details. IRS spokesman Mark Hanson said publications explaining how to write off donations to nonprofits are available online. Taxpayers without a computer can call 1-800-TAX-FORMS to get more information.