Washington (Dec. 10, 2002) -- As the end of the year approaches, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that they may be able to use their gifts to tax-exempt charitable and religious groups to reduce their taxes."We want people to be focused on helping these worthy groups rather than worrying about tax issues," said Bob Wenzel, acting IRS commissioner. "A few simple steps can help avoid tax headaches."

In 1999, the last year for which complete data is available, about 35.5 million taxpayers made deductible charitable contributions totaling nearly $125.8 billion. Of these gifts, nearly $88.3 billion were cash donations.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers to keep appropriate records to substantiate the value of their gifts. For example, for any single gift of $250 or more, a taxpayer must have a written acknowledgement from the charity by the earlier of the date the person files the tax return or the filing deadline, including extensions. A person donating property valued at more than $5,000 must obtain a qualified written appraisal.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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