If you're thinking about doing some charitable giving this holiday season, the Internal Revenue Service has some helpful advice for you to insure you're not donating your money to a fraudulent charity.
"Make sure that you're giving to an organization that you're familiar with.  That's always the key," says IRS Spokeswoman Dee Stepter.  "And even if it's an unfamiliar organization, that doesn't mean that it's not legitimate.  But you should check it out."

Stepter also says if you're planning to use your donation as a tax write-off, it's important to check and see if you're giving to an organization that's a qualified 501(c)(3) public charity.  You can find that information on the IRS WEBSITE, by clicking on the Exempt Organization Select Check tool.

You will need to have proof that you made that donation, so the IRS encourages you to never give cash.  "Give by check or credit card, so that you have a record to substantiate that documentation," Stepter says.  "But probably the first thing that people need to know is that you have to be able to itemize.  You're going to be filling a long form and completing a Schedule A."

Stepter says if you'll be taking a standard tax deduction, your charitable donation won't count toward your tax write-offs.

We'll have more end-of-year tax tips for you next week.