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May I deduct contributions to foreign charities?

Article ID: 39
Last updated: 07 Oct, 2013
Revision: 4
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By Jason Watson ()

Generally No. There are exceptions for Canada, Mexico and Israeli charities but you must have income in those countries to deduct the associated charitable donation. For example, to donate to a Canadian charity you must have Canadian income.

From a theoretical perspective, the tax break given to those who donate to charities is designed to benefit the charity. So, if the United States allowed taxpayers to deduct their contributions to a charity not located in the US, then recipients located in the United States are not receiving the benefit. Whether we raise taxes to provide for those less fortunate or allow the fortunate to directly give to the less fortunate through a donation, it’s all the same- the government is simply removing the middle transaction. Make sense?

Altruism is important but not always deductible.

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