Corporate View:

Charitable Contributions and Corporations

One of the best ways out there to save a corporation some taxes is by making charitable contributions. If a company feels that it is going to get hit with a large capital gains tax for that year, they can make a charitable contribution to any U.S. qualified charity. The key word here is qualified. Also, the charitable contribution cannot exceed more than 10% of the taxable income for the corporation for that tax year. The IRS has set some standards for qualified organizations:
A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation organized or created in or under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States (including Puerto Rico). It must be organized and operated only for:

  • Religious (Churches, a convention or association of churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations),
  • Charitable (Most nonprofit charitable organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Way),
  • Educational (Most nonprofit educational organizations, including the Girl [and Boy] Scouts of America, colleges, museums, and day-care centers if substantially all the child care provided is to enable individuals [the parents] to be gainfully employed and the services are available to the general public. However, if your contribution is a substitute for tuition or other enrollment fee, it is not deductible as a charitable contribution),
  • Scientific (Nonprofit hospitals and medical research organizations), or
  • Literary purposes (Public libraries), or
  • For the prevention of cruelty to children or animals (ASPCA).
  • Certain organizations that foster national or international amateur sports competition also qualify (for e.g. Olympics).

War veterans' organizations, including posts, auxiliaries, trusts, or foundations, organized in the United States or any of its possessions.

Domestic fraternal societies, orders, and associations operating under the lodge system. Your contribution to this type of organization is deductible only if it is to be used solely for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.

Certain nonprofit cemetery companies or corporations. Your contribution to this type of organization is not deductible if it can be used for the care of a specific lot or mausoleum crypt.

The United States or any state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. possession (including Puerto Rico), a political subdivision of a state or U.S. possession, or an Indian tribal government or any of its subdivisions that perform substantial government functions.

Also if you use the accrual method of accounting to make these contributions, the IRS lets you deduct unpaid contributions as long as you pay them within a 2 month period towards the end of the tax year.
(Source: IRS web site)