The end of the year is a good time to make charitable contributions, not only because the holidays are a season of giving, but because there can be tax advantages to giving to charities.

In general, charitable contributions are deductible in the year paid.  If you make a donation with your credit card, you take the deduction in the year the expense was charged to your card, even if you don’t pay the credit card bill until the next year.  For donations made with a check, you can take a deduction in the current year as long as you get the check in the mail before the end of the year, even if the charity doesn’t cash the check until the next year.

Only donations to qualified charities are deductible.  I’ll explore qualified charities in more detail in a future post.