As tax-preparation season arrives, people often have questions about the cutoff date for church giving contributions that can be counted for charitable deductions. The quick answer is that all contributions must be received on or before Dec. 31, 2011 (by the end of the day).

Contributions received after Dec. 31 do not qualify for 2011 charitable deductions. The ONLY exception is if the contribution was mailed and the postmark is dated on or before Dec. 31.

Do not make the common mistake of accepting a check in January 2012 that is simply dated in 2011. This would be an improper recording of the contribution.