Philanthropy and the IRS Charitable Deduction

From Plato to your tax return!


The National Philanthropic Trust (, in its analysis of “The History of Giving”, identifies 347 BCE as the date of one of the earliest known acts of philanthropy, when Plato, in his will, left his farm to a nephew, with instructions that the proceeds be used to support students and faculty at the academy he founded.

Giving continues:  in our own time, the Trust believes that in 2011, Americans gave $298.3 billion to charities, a 3.9% increase from 2010.  By any measure this is a great deal of money, and a wonderful thing.  And of course, much of it will have been tax deductible.

To achieve a tax deduction for a contribution to charity, you must follow certain rules set forth in the Internal Revenue Code, and interpretations of it by the Internal Revenue Service.  In a recent release, the IRS set out “Nine Tips on Deducting Charitable Contributions,” all of which are basic and for the most part are of long standing, but we think it’s worth your time to review them.