Obey state and local jurisdictional requirements when serving food to homeless

When the weather gets better, so does the urge to hold a picnic for the homeless and hungry. Many of the States and local jurisdictions in the U.S. have rules regarding food and serving food outdoors to unrelated individuals.


Most of the rules require that in order serve food, it has to be prepared in a commercial kitchen that holds a permit from the local jurisdiction or the state health agency. Also, they may require an additional permit to serve food at a public place or to feed the homeless. Check your local jurisdiction and the state for requirements and obey the law. Failure to comply with the state and/or the local jurisdiction’s requirements may carry a penalty as well as a ban on holding any events that serve food for the homeless and the needy.

Some argue that a charitable organization feeding homeless on a public park is a social issue rather than a health issue. They argue that local jurisdictions are trying to prevent homeless gather on highly visible public areas such as parks and downtown main transport corridors.

Jurisdictions argue that it is not about the homeless gatherings but their health and welfare.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognition of Charitable Organizations

Charitable organizations in the U.S. are recognized by the Internal Revenue Code. They are contained in Section 501(c) of the code. Many of us are very familiar with the 501(c)(3) designation among many categories included in the code. In IRS Publication 557, 501(c)(3) is defined as Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animal Organizations.

Generally they are non-profit associations or corporations and are tax-exempt unless they have unrelated business income which is subject to income tax.

The definition of a 501(c)(3) is clearly stated in the tax code. Anyone donating to any of these causes can get a tax deduction depend on their tax status. If a donor wants to know whether the intended charity is listed under the code, donor can review IRS Publication 78.

In order to obtain the status under the IRS code, an organization seeking the tax exempt status must submit Form 1023 along with the required fee to the IRS.

Before you make a charitable donation, check to see whether they are recognized by the IRS and make sure to obtain a receipt for your donation.

How to take a deduction of your charitable donations on your tax return

It’s tax preparation time. You may want to get those charitable donation records in order to claim your tax deduction. If you itemize deductions, you can claim your gift to the qualified charitable organization using Schedule A that is attached to your Form 1040. Here are some important things to consider:


If you donated cash get copies of your cancelled checks, credit card or bank statements. If you have donated stocks to charity, you need to submit all your records to the tax preparer. If you have donated more than $250, you may need a receipt from the charity including your non-profit religious organization. Make sure it is a 501 (c) (3) designated charitable organization under the IRS Code.

If you donated non-cash items such as vehicles, household items, office furniture, cloths and other like items to a charity, make sure they are in good condition and obtain a receipt from the charity. If you are doing your taxes using one of the popular tax preparation software, use available tables to figure out the value of the items donated.

If you donated your time to a charity, you can deduct the mileage you drove for the charity.

What you should know when organizing a charity event

Organizing a charity event may be a daunting task. But planning ahead and choosing the right team can create a successful event. Here are some guidelines used by successful charity event planes.

Consider a list of people who will be included in your organizing team. Start with your family and friends. They will be able to help you to put together a winning team.

Consider the cost of the event. Remember you want to maximize the donation to the charity not the cost of the event.

Consider a neutral location that is convenient to your invitees and cost no funds. Talk to some local agencies that maintain event halls.

Set a date and time for the event. A place donated by a friend, family member or an organization cost next to nothing.

Prepare an eye catching brochure and personalize it to all your invitees.

Promote the event. More participation increases the chance of maximizing the donations.

Provide wide variety of activities that are age and place appropriate. Keep in mind that you need to keep all attendees entertained and stay the entire duration of the event.