As you prepare to welcome in the new year, don’t forget about homeless animals. You can still make tax deductible donations to help pets in need. We’ve all seen the ASPCA commercials with the sad looking dogs and cats in shelters while the heart wrenching music plays in the background. If you’re like most pet lovers, you feel like running straight to your checkbook to donate to help all those miserable looking animals. What most people don’t think about is that while it does help those homeless pets, it does nothing for the animals right here in your own neighborhood. While there is only one shelter funded by local government here in Indianapolis, there are countless rescue groups saving lives every day. When donating money to help animals, your money will go farther by donating to a local group rather than a large national organization. You can compare their info on Guidestar then decide if you want your money to help animals or if you want to pay for advertising or salaries as is often the case with the large national groups. Local groups tend to be all volunteer run so the money they raise all goes back to caring for the animals. In order to deduct your donation on your taxes, you must make the donation by the end of the calendar year and the organization must be recognized as a qualified organization by the IRS. For pet charities, this means they must be a 501(c)3. You can search Guidestar for more information about pet charities and how they spend their money. You can make your donation by credit card even if your bill will not be due until next year. If you are a volunteer with an IRS recognized group, don’t forget that you can deduct the miles that you drive when participating in events or driving the pet to the vet or shelters. As a disclaimer, I am not a tax professional so please check with one before claiming deductions.