Are you planning to make a cash contribution to your favorite charity? Have you recently spent a weekend cleaning stuff out of your garage or basement that you now plan to donate to a local nonprofit group?

Charitable contributions can be tax-deductible, but you must have the proper records to support your deduction. Because of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the rules on record keeping for charitable contributions became a little more strict in 2007.

To deduct a charitable cash donation, regardless of the amount, you must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Acceptable bank records would include canceled checks or bank or credit union statements containing the name of the charity, the date and the amount of the contribution.

Under the previous rules, records such as personal bank registers, diaries or notes made around the time of the donation could often be used as evidence of cash donations. Personal records like this are no longer sufficient.

Here are some additional tips to help you deduct your charitable contributions on your 2008 federal tax return.

» Charitable contributions are deductible only if you itemize deductions using Form 1040.

» Contributions must be made to a qualified organization.

» Used clothing and household items such as furniture, linens and appliances must be in good used condition.

» Vehicle donations are subject to special rules.

» To deduct charitable contributions of items valued at $250 or more you must have a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization.

» To deduct charitable contributions of items valued at $500 or more you must complete a Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, and attached the form to your return.

Click here for IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

Remember that for the genuine IRS Web site be sure to use .gov. Don’t be confused by Internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental Web site is

— Victor Omelczenko is an Internal Revenue Service media relations specialist.