Issues in Cross Border Charitable Giving

Internal Revenue Code § 170 allows taxpayers a deduction for charitable contributions they make to qualifying organizations.  Many taxpayers may wish to donate to foreign charitable organizations and want to know whether a deduction is available for contributions to foreign charitable organizations.

Contributions to foreign charitable organizations generally cannot be deducted, however, certain Canadian, Israeli and Mexican organizations are qualified to receive deductible contributions under current treaties.  If a taxpayer would like to donate to charitable organizations abroad aside from these three countries, there are still options available to them.

Contributions to U.S. formed qualified organizations that are carrying on activities in foreign countries may be deductible.  Contributions may be deductible if the qualified organization is using the contributions for a program conducted by a foreign charity as long as the money is not earmarked to go to that foreign charity.  The qualified organization must approve the program as furthering its own exempt purposes and must keep control over the use of the contributed funds.  The contribution would also be deductible if the foreign charity is only an administrative arm of the qualified organization.

To search or see a full list of all qualified organizations for charitable contributions, see the IRS website at IRS Exempt Organizations.