Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (left) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R., Iowa) listen intently during a discussion of charitable tax deductions.

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Charitable contributions are a great way to simultaneously help people in need and give yourself a tax break. Although the Internal Revenue Service has strengthened its restrictions on what counts as a tax-deductible contribution, you can still write off almost anything you give to an eligible charitable organization.

There are many tax restrictions on charitable contributions. You can't simply write off every gift you give to any organizations. Items you donate, such as clothing, must meet certain standards, and organizations must be eligible to receive tax-exempt donations. There are also limitations on how much of a contribution can be deducted on your tax return.

Charitable contributions can be more than just money. You can write off donations of vehicles, useful household items and furniture. You can also deduct expenses incurred while performing volunteer work for an eligible organization or foundation.

On the pages that follow, you'll learn about tax restrictions on charitable contributions. You will also see some examples of charitable contributions. First, we will tackle the tax restrictions.