Help a Reader – Can You Skip Out on Federal Taxes and Donate Income Directly to Charity?

Recently, a reader and friend asked me if I had ever investigated much in to donating money to charity.
As soon as she asked me this, I was thinking to myself, “This shouldn’t be too hard to answer the follow-up questions, seeing as how I had investigated this topic on several occasions throughout the year.”

Note: To view the previous posts I have written on charitable contributions, click on either of the links below.

However, as I constantly am reminded by her follow-up question, I most certainly do not have all of the answers. Not by a long shot!
What she was wondering was if it was possible to legally bypass paying a large portion of federal income taxes up front, and donating the would-be tax amount to a registered charity instead.
“This is a very good question!” I said, and mentioned that I would start looking in to it.
 So, in other words, my friend is wondering if she can donate money pre-tax to charity, similar to a payroll deduction on a pre-tax basis for your 401k retirement account.
Results of Investigation
After searching around for a while, the closest article I could get to answering this question is the one from, at the link shown below. – Is it Possible to Donate with Pre-Tax Dollars
The article states that charitable donations are not listed as an eligible pre-tax deduction by the IRS (a list of eligible deductions is shown below), and therefore have to be subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes before being eligible for donating.
Eligible Pre-Tax Deductions
  • Dental Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • 401K Contributions
  • Vision Insurance
  • Flexible Healthcare Spending Accounts

So, after looking at the evidence, it is looking like I will have to report to my friend that she cannot contribute to charities with her pre-tax funds.

Two Other Interesting Findings

As I was searching for an answer to my friend’s question, I came across two other interesting things that are worth sharing:

  • First, I found an Austrailian website,, that says that charitable gifts to help their efforts are made on a pre-tax basis.
    • Therefore, it makes me think that donating money pre-tax is possible in other countries. Does anyone have experience with this?
  • Second, I found that if you are over the age of 70.5 years old, you can make a Qualified Charitable Donation from an IRA using your pre-tax funds in the account. See the link below from Ameriprise for more information about this.
    • – Charitable Tax Donations
How about you all? 

Have you tried and/or been successful at donating money on a pre-tax basis? Did you meet any obstacles? Are any of the ex-United States readers out there able to do this?

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Related articles about taxes and donations/charitable contributions at several of my favorite personal finance blogs: – See the Impact When You Donate to Charity – Investigate Your Charity Before You Donate

About the Author Jacob A Irwin

Hi folks! My name is Jacob. I am the owner and operator of My Personal Finance Journey. I started this blog in January of 2010 and have enjoyed the journey ever since. Since finishing up graduate school in Virginia in 2014, I have been working in biopharmaceutical development in Colorado. You can read more about me and this site here​. Please contact me if you have any questions!

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Leave a Comment:

Kathryn says July 22, 2010

Have you looked into this? While not completely getting you out of the loop, you do avoid having to pay taxes on the stock when you sell it.

My Personal Finance Journey says July 22, 2010

good find Kathryn! Do you know if you can do this with stock in your 401k or IRA accounts? All I found before was that you could donate stock from your IRA after you are 70.5 years old.

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