Donations Must Be Made By Dec. 31 For 2012 Taxes

This time of year, appeals from charities can pile up in mailboxes. As part of the 12 Days of Tax Deductions, Morning Edition examines the charitable contribution deduction.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is, of course, the season of giving and the time for last-minute cash donations. They have to be made by December 31st if you want to deduct the amount on your 2012 tax form. The charitable deduction is the next kink of tax break in our series, the 12 Days of Tax Deductions.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS")

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Charitable contributions have a deductible for almost a century, but now for the first time there's talk of limiting them. They're worth about $48 billion per year and the government is running huge deficits.

But economist Martin Sullivan does not foresee much meddling with this deduction.

MARTIN SULLIVAN: With all the other government budget cuts, the need for charitable organizations to fill in the gaps is going to be greater than ever. Certainly, many Republicans - if you remember the first George Bush's thousand points of light - he wanted to reduce the size of government and have the charitable sector fill in the gaps where the government can no longer provide. Well, if you at the same time you started to eliminate the charitable deduction, that would be contradictory.

GREENE: All right, but the White House is considering a limit for wealthier taxpayers who benefit most from this tax break. Non-profits who depend on donations are pushing back and hoping that that change does not take place.

Tomorrow, we'll look at a tax rate for homeowners, the home mortgage interest deduction.

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