more-arw search

Q&A Forum

The nonprofit I work with received several checks postmarked 12/31 and several checks dated 12/31. What year are you recognizing gifts received 1/2 and 1/3 and possibly 1/4?

Scout Young's Profile

accounting for charitable contributionsObviously the donors sent in the checks hoping to have a tax-credit write off for 2012…but should we recognize them for 2012 if they were received in 2013?


Ted Monohon
Title: VP -Finance / Controller
Company: Fantex
(VP -Finance / Controller, Fantex) |

My understanding is that if audited, the IRS will look to the date of the receipt you give the donor and that should correspond to the check date. Obviously, you will want to make sure you don't abuse this by backdating receipts when it is clear that the donor is backdating the check.

The date of Receipt or deposit doesn't seem to matter from my understanding (again unless this is clearly a 2013 event for the donor and you have knowledge of it).

dick nealy
Title: Trusted Advisor
Company: Family Office services
(Trusted Advisor, Family Office services) |

Postmark date is the rule. If mailed Dec 31 or prior, then it is a 2012 donation. IRS regs are clear about donor acknowledgements - don't participate in fraud.

Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

For a cash basis organization, in the year of receipt...2013 in this case. Dates on checks are neither governing nor reliable. Different if you received mail but did not open it intil 2013.

David Bartlett
Title: Owner
Company: David L. Bartlett, CPA
(Owner, David L. Bartlett, CPA) |

I have a related question. Since these are donations received, aren't you required to send a statement to the donors? If you record the donation as received in 2013, are you allowed to provide a donation statement to the donor for 2012?

Ted Monohon
Title: VP -Finance / Controller
Company: Fantex
(VP -Finance / Controller, Fantex) |

Yes, you should be sending your donors a statement acknowledging the receipt of the donation (required for donations over $250). You cannot show this in your 2013 records and give a letter dated in 2012. There is a nice publication from the IRS (Pub 1771):

I can't seem to find where the IRS insists on using the envelope postmark for recording donations. Audits I have been through only as for copies of the checks (since the envelope with the postmark are rarely kept).

Mulekye Mukoko
Title: President
Company: Uzima Int'l, Inc
(President, Uzima Int'l, Inc) |

Mukoko (owner for 501 C 3), Jan 18, 2013
Accounting drowns lines between filing forms and applying principles. Should I use my common sense here above rules and regulations...The choice is mine and the decision is mine, as well. In this case I know that the donor is after a tax break... right... we have also limitations in reporting donations for individual and business. From what I know I did make it clear that any donor (cash in this case) if the deposit shows on my statement that it is recorded on 12/31 and a receipt was given on that date, then no comment, it is a tax break for 2012. My method on the form 990/long /short is on cash basis for 2012. So, I cannot be wrong, even audited. Otherwise all goes to 2013, as simple as that. Postmark envelop goes with filing Tax forms and not not with donations check again publications from IRS government

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Here is a comprehensive discussion by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability®

Here is the IRS Publication 526 for guidance

Intuit's Guidance about deductibility of Charitable Donations

Diane McAllister
Title: Partner
Company: Brown Welch McAllister, LLP
(Partner, Brown Welch McAllister, LLP) |

Thank you, Valerie for Pub 526. I have always gone with the post stamp on the envelope. We specifically kept envelopes received through January 15th to make sure all those postmarked on or before 12/31 supported the acknowledgement dated in 2012.

Kevin Roones
Title: Senior Accounting Professional
Company: In-between
(Senior Accounting Professional, In-between) |

The answers of Richard and Valerie are spot on. Checks must be dated 2012 and postmarked by 12/31/12 to be considered 2012 contributions.

From the receiver's perspective, it would be considered a deposit in transit.


Get Free Membership

By signing up, you will receive emails from Proformative regarding Proformative programs, events, community news and activity. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact Us.

Business Exchange

Browse the Business Exchange to find information, resources and peer reviews to help you select the right solution for your business.

Learn more

Contribute to Community

If you’re interested in learning more about contributing to your Proformative community, we have many ways for you to get involved. Please email [email protected] to learn more about becoming a speaker or contributing to the blogs/Q&A Forum.