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Charitable Donations and Tax Time: The do’s and don’ts

Charity donation jar. Image via shutterstock

The horrific Australian bushfires have seen the nation rally together stronger than ever with Aussies donating hundreds of millions of dollars to those affected. 

And with so many wonderful Aussies digging deep, going without and lending a helping hand, we decided to talk to Mark Chapman, H&R Block’s Director of Tax Communications, to see how our wonderful nation can get back some of the love they’ve sent out, this time from the ATO.

Is there a minimum or maximum amount I am able to claim back from a charitable donation?

For gifts of money, you can claim a deduction where the amount of the gift is $2 or more – there is no maximum claimable amount.

For gifts of property, there are different rules, depending on the type of property and its value. For instance, if you make a gift of property (which could mean anything from clothing to jewellery to land or buildings) you can claim a deduction provided you acquired the property less than 12 months before you gifted it. The amount you can claim is the lower of the market value of the property at the date you gifted it – so you may need to get an expert opinion as to what it’s worth – and the amount you originally paid for it. If the property was bought 12 months or more before the gift, you can only claim a deduction if the value of the property was $5000 or more. You’ll need to obtain a valuation from the ATO. You can claim the deduction in the tax return for the income year in which the gift is made.

Can I make a tax deduction claim for multiple charities?

You can claim a deduction for as many donations as you like to as many charities as you like. The only restriction is that you can only claim a tax deduction for gifts or donations to organisations which are deductible gift recipients (DGRs). Most major charities – like the Australian Red Cross – are DGRs. You can find out if the organisation you want to donate to is a DGR by looking it up on the Australian Business Register website.

Should I keep all of our charitable donation receipts when making a tax deduction claim for a charitable donation?

Yes, a receipt is essential as the ATO may seek to see your proof that you actually made the donation. Your receipt – which you will need to substantiate the deduction – should tell you whether or not you can claim a deduction. Most online donations will automatically provide a receipt by return email.

If you used the internet or phone to make a donation over $2, your web receipt or credit card statement can also be used to substantiate the deduction.

If you donated through third parties, such as banks and retail outlets, the receipt they gave you is also sufficient.

If you contributed through “workplace giving”, your payment summary shows the amount you donated.

If you make donations to bucket collections of $2 or more, you can claim a tax deduction for your contributions without a receipt provided the contribution does not exceed $10.

What types of charitable donations can I claim and which can I not?

For you to claim a tax deduction for a gift, it must meet these conditions:

  • The gift must be made to a deductible gift recipient (DGR).
  • The gift must truly be a gift. A gift is a voluntary transfer of money or property where you receive nothing in return.
  • The gift must be money or property, which includes financial assets such as shares.

You cannot claim (as a gift or donation) anything that provides you with a personal benefit, such as:

  • Raffle tickets
  • Items such as chocolates and pens
  • The cost of attending fundraising dinners, even if the cost exceeds the value of the dinner (however, see below)

If you attend a fundraising event, you may still be able to claim a tax deduction even though the payment you have made is not regarded as a gift for tax purposes.
You can claim a portion of your contribution to the event as a tax deduction if the contribution is for an eligible fundraising event, organised for a DGR and conducted in Australia, including fetes, balls, gala shows, dinners, performances and similar events.

If you make a contribution of money (such as buying a ticket), you can only claim a deduction if the amount spent is over $150. If you make a contribution of property, the property must be valued at more than $150 (if purchased within 12 months of making the contribution) or $5000 (if purchased more than 12 months before the contribution). Fundraising events held by political parties are ineligible for this concession.


H&R Block has decided to further their support to all those affected by the devastating bushfires by donating $100,000 to the Australian Red Cross.

The recovery is complex and will be an on-going issue that our nation will face for months to come. As a business we are thinking of, and concerned for, those affected by this devastation and we will look for as many ways as possible for H&R Block to help these communities recover.

If you need to get in touch with H&R Block Australia, call them on 13 23 25, or head to their website to find your closest office.

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