It’s Easier to Get a Tax Deduction for Donations This Year

The average donation at a fund-raising gala might be $125 to $150, said Afi Tengue, vice president of philanthropy and impact at Giving Compass, which helps donors research issues and make contributions. In that context, she said, “$300 is a big deal.”

Here are some questions and answers about charitable donations.

Is the $300 universal deduction in the CARES Act permanent?

The deduction is temporary, for tax year 2020 only, said Cari Weston, director of tax practice and ethics at the American Institute of C.P.A.s. (Congress sometimes extends temporary tax provisions, and nonprofit organizations would like to see that happen, so stay tuned.)

If my spouse and I file a joint tax return, can we deduct up to $600?

The I.R.S. has not yet made clear whether the law allows a $300 deduction per taxpayer or per tax return. Though some legal firms have written that it is “reasonable” to assume that the deduction is $600 per couple, Ms. Weston said that most tax professionals would probably advise clients to be “conservative” and deduct no more than $300 per return.

How should I decide where to donate?

Choosing where to spend your money is a personal decision, but there are tools available to help you decide.

Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy and author of the book “Giving Done Right,” suggested supporting community foundations, which are deeply familiar with local needs and probably have funds dedicated to dealing with the coronavirus. To find one in your area, the Council on Foundations offers an online search tool.

If you are looking toward rebuilding beyond the current crisis, he suggested that you consider supporting local performing-arts organizations, which have been hit hard by the evaporation of ticket sales.