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What is the New Universal Tax Deduction?


The CARES Act, among other coronavirus relief efforts, has instituted a provision allowing people to deduct $300 for charitable contributions. If you are married and filing jointly, your deduction is still limited to $300. Taxpayers can take this universal deduction no matter whether they itemize or take the standard deduction on their taxes.


Deductions under the CARES Act must be in cash (including checks and credit card payments) and given to a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions to non-operating private foundations, support organizations and donor-advised funds don’t fall under this new deduction. Because the CARES Act deduction is a universal above-the-line deduction, you can list your contribution as an adjustment to income on your taxes.


In short, with the CARES Act, if you donate up to $300 in cash to a qualified organization, your adjusted gross income will be reduced up to $300.


Another benefit of this provision is that you don’t need to include documentation when you file gifts $250 and under — just be sure to keep proof of cash receipts. All other gifts and donations exceeding $250 need to include the receipt or proper documentation when filing.

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