Americans Took More Deductions In 2011, Hitting $160 Billion

Americans took a collective $160.33 billion in tax deductions for charitable contributions in 2011, an increase of 1.4 percent compared to the $158.18 billion in 2010. The number of tax returns filed that included charitable deductions declined by 0.8 percent, from 38.1 million to 37.9 million.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released preliminary data on individual income tax returns for 2010 and 2011. Preliminary statistics are based on a sample of individual tax returns, including Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ, filed during the 2012 calendar year. The estimates are based on a sample of returns filed.

There were 145.6 million individual income tax returns filed for 2011, up 1.9 percent from the 142.9 million filed for 2010, and more than 46 million of those returns took a total itemized deduction.

By far, the largest categories filing for the charitable deduction were those with adjusted gross in­come (AGI) of $50,000 to $100,000, with 13.87 million filed, or 36 percent of those itemized returns, followed by those in the $100,000 to $200,000 category, with 11.086 million, or 29 percent.

The largest category by amount of charitable contribution deductions, however, was $250,000 or more in AGI, with $50 million, or 31 percent of the overall $160 million. Those in the $250,000-plus category filed 2.7 million returns that included the deduction.

AGI increased by 3.1 percent to $8.3 trillion in 2011 while taxable income rose 4.3 percent to $5.7 trillion and total income tax increased by 9.8 percent to $1 trillion.

The number of returns claiming the standard deduction accounted for two-thirds of all returns filed and 40 percent of the total deductions amount.

The amount claimed for non-cash charitable contributions jumped by almost 25 percent during 2010, led primarily by a 37-percent boost in the amount claimed for corporate stock donations. Corporate stock donations registered at $9.7 billion in 2009 but jumped to $13.3 billion in 2010, accounting for 38 percent of all non-cash donations.

Donations of clothing were up almost 10 percent, from $7.6 billion in 2009 to $8.3 billion in 2010. Donations of household items increased just 1 percent, from $3.22 billion to $3.25 billion. The number of returns with stock donations (123,109) is a tiny fraction of the number of returns with donations of clothing (5.7 million) or household items (2.5 million).

Overall, the number of taxpayers filing Form 8283 for non-cash charitable contributions increased 9.1 percent, from 6.7 million in 2009 to 7.3 million in 2010. The amount claimed for those donations increased almost 25 percent, from $28 billion in 2009 to almost $35 billion in 2010.

Taxpayers use Form 8283 when the amount of taxpayer deductions for all noncash contributions exceeds $500.  NPT