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Did you donate? AZ will give you back your money if you send it to one of these charities

Posted at 4:50 PM, Dec 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-26 20:16:26-05

Get out your credit card. It's time for you to give away some money. But don't worry, you're going to get it all back. It sounds crazy, but Arizona has some off-the-wall income tax laws that could literally make you money.

"You can do them all online, you can use credit card and get your mileage," said Robert Hockensmith, a Phoenix CPA.

It's such a no-brainer. You can make a public school, private school, or other qualifying donation online and the state will give you your money back.

"Arizona is the only state that allows five separate tax credits for giving away to charitable organizations," said Hockensmith. 

That's a dollar for dollar credit, not a deduction on your state return. Each has a different maximum amount. The first number is for a single filer, the second for joint filers.

  • Public School Credit $200/$400
  • Qualifying Charitable Organizations $400/$800
  • Private School Credit $1,090/$2,177
  • Foster Care Charitable Organization $500/$1000
  • The Arizona Military Family Relief Fund Credit $200/$400

RELATED: 6 ways to maximize your tax refund

"If you itemize on your federal tax return you'll actually get extra money back," said Hockensmith.

It's money that you would not have received if you didn't redirect these state dollars. The donation money is a credit against state taxes owed. That means if you typically get an overpayment refund, you'll get the donation amount back in that refund after you file. But of course, the biggest benefit is how the contribution will be used.

"Every dollar we take in to the food bank can provide 7 meals," said Jerry Brown from St. Mary's Food bank. "Each meal equates to a pound of food."

Brown said this tax credit keeps their doors open.

"In terms of one family, if they do the $800 tax credit for the St. Mary's Food Bank, you're talking about 5,500 pounds of food that would be coming the food bank's way," said Brown. "That's the equivalent of a major food drive."

You have until April 15, 2018 to make the donations and claim them on your 2017 return; however, you cannot claim any of the donations made in 2018 on your 2017 federal return. 

Arizonans, if you itemize on your federal return and don't take advantage of these credits before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, you are leaving money on the table.