Video: Deducting Charitable Contributions

If you’ve recently done some downsizing or decluttering, you may have taken a car full of items you no longer needed to a local charity for donation. Donating to a charity can put your items to good use helping others who are less fortunate, but did you know that it can also help you? In addition to clearing up space in your home, donating clothing, books, electronics, and appliances you no longer need can help you when tax time comes around.

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As for things like linens, they tend to retain very little value after they’ve been used. Because ItsDeductible bases its calculations on real-world transactions, it allows you to estimate fair-market values that comply with IRS guidelines. “Every day, we’re collecting info from thousands of completed eBay auctions to capture valuations that are not commonly found in thrift, consignment, or specialty stores,” the website states. “We then perform a statistical analysis to determine the fair market value of the item, which in turn gets translated to a high, medium, or low value.”

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The nonprofit won’t put a dollar value on the receipt, but the paperwork will help you prove that you did, indeed, donate the property if the IRS asks. Household goods and clothing items that aren’t in at least good, used condition require an appraisal as well as completion of Section B if you claim more than $500 for them. A lot of variables exist in this category, particularly for furniture.

How to Claim Charitable Donations When You File Your Tax Return

  1. The other gives you the lowest value and the highest value (so taking the average between the two is a safe bet).
  2. Household goods and clothing items that aren’t in at least good, used condition require an appraisal as well as completion of Section B if you claim more than $500 for them.
  3. You’ll need to get most of your donations of items worth more than $5,000 appraised.
  4. You can’t really take a guess as to condition or value when it comes to donating expensive items.
  5. Used clothing and household items are likely to be worth a lot less than you paid for them, but they still have to be in reasonably good condition if you want to take a deduction.

Most often, these are charitable, religious or educational organizations, though they can also be everything from your local volunteer fire company to a group for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Itemizing is usually only worth your while if your total qualifying itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction for your filing status for the year. You can’t itemize and take the standard deduction, so you should use the method that will reduce your taxable income the most. As for aircraft, cars, and boats, the rules here are particularly tricky. They can vary from one area of the country to another, and you might have a choice of valuation methods depending on what the charity does with the gift.

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For any donations you make over $250, you’ll need to make sure to get a receipt from the organization you’re donating it to. The IRS requires you to report all taxable gifts you make during the year and pay the appropriate tax. However, due to the generous exclusions and deductions available, the average taxpayer never files a gift tax return or pays gift tax. The intention of the federal government is to only impose a tax on wealthy individuals who dispose of their wealth by making high-value gifts. is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service.

The most important step in deducting the value of your car donation is to insure the charity you donate it to is an IRS tax-exempt organization. Only the donations you make to these types of organizations allow you to claim the deduction. Generally, these include religious groups, charities and organizations that promote education, literacy, scientific or humanitarian causes. Donating your car to charity can be a good deal for both you and the organization you give it to. A charity may keep your vehicle for its own use, donate it to someone in need or sell it to obtain the cash.

The IRS uses fair market value (FMV) to establish the amount you can deduct for almost all donated items. The IRS defines FMV as what a consumer would willingly pay for an item if neither the seller nor the buyer was under any duress to make the sale. Unfortunately, you cannot claim a tax deduction for donation of your time. If you drove to volunteer at a charity, you can deduct the mileage at 14 cents per mile, as well as any supplies you bought for the charity.

In fact, some furniture may have increased in value because of how old it is. By having all your donations in one place, it’s hard to forget a receipt here or there. If you have some of your documentation in a physical folder and some in your email inbox, it’s very easy to forget one or the other. I scan every receipt and keep in a folder on my computer, and I save every email receipt to a PDF and store those in the same folder.

Whether you already gave to charity or you are considering giving, you may have questions about what charitable donations are tax deductible. When you use TurboTax to prepare your tax return, we’ll fill in all the right forms for you and guide you to any exemptions, deductions and credits you qualify for. A requirement to file a gift tax return does not always mean you must pay gift tax. The IRS requires all taxpayers who make a gift in excess of the annual exclusion amount to file a return, even when eliminating all tax with the unified credit.

To determine the fair market value of an item not on this list below, use this calculator or 30% of the item’s original price. Congress has clamped down on donations of household goods to make sure folks aren’t inflating the value of their used stuff. Cash may be king, but if you want a really big tax saver, your best bet may be a donation of appreciated property—securities, real estate, art, jewelry or antiques.

The IRS requires you to document your use of the unified credit on your return. However, if your unified credit balance was zero, then the gift tax would be calculated on $100,000 of this gift. The appropriate valuation method depends on the type of property; however, the value must always relate to the price a willing buyer would pay for the item in the open market. The IRS can impose significant penalties if you attempt to minimize your gift tax liability by purposely undervaluing the property.

The IRS allows you to deduct fair market value for gently-used items. Get unlimited advice, an expert final review and your maximum refund, guaranteed. Donating property that has appreciated in value can help you avoid capital gains tax on the appreciation, provided you have owned the property for more than a year.

For cash donations, you can use a cancelled check or statement from your credit card or bank, if the donation is under $250. If it is over $250, the charity will need to give you written acknowledgement of the donation. It can be a mailed letter or an email, but you need it to prove you made the donation. Deducting charitable donations usually means itemizing your deductions rather than taking the standard deduction. However, you may be able to claim a limited deduction for cash donations made in 2021.

And if you donate property, jewelry, furniture or other treasures valued at more than $5,000, get an independent appraisal—the IRS requires it. If you make a non-cash gift worth more than $500, TurboTax will help you fill out Form 8283. To help you keep track of this information, TurboTax has a tool called “ItsDeductible” that uses eBay to calculate the IRS-approved value of your donations. Note that you will find it helpful in case of an audit if you print the pages of the valuation guides that you used and saved them with your tax papers. Go to your favorite search engine and search for “Goodwill Salvation Army Valuation Guides”.

Deductions for appreciated property are typically limited to 30% of your AGI. Let’s say you own stock that you bought many years ago for $1,000 that is now worth $10,000, and that you intend to make a $10,000 gift to a major fundraiser for your alma mater. If you write turbotax donation value guide a check for $10,000, the college gets $10,000, and you get to deduct $10,000. You can take the deduction for your contribution in the year that you make it. Be sure to get a receipt from the charity when you donate your goods — again, for your personal records.

If you take public transportation, that bus or rail fare is deductible, too. If you don’t really want to part with the stock because you think it’s still a good investment, give it away anyway. Then use your $10,000 of cash to buy the shares back in the open market. Also, keep in mind that you can’t write off a contribution to the extent that you get something in return. The condition of the piece tends to be far more important than age, assuming it’s not an antique, as is style. A type of sofa that was all the rage back in 2010 might have negligible value now, and it’s certainly not an antique yet, either.

The annual exclusion is the maximum value of gifts you can give to each person. For example, during the 2023 tax year, the law allows you to make an unlimited number of tax-free gifts as long as no one receives more than $17,000. Therefore, you can make hundreds of $17,000 gifts without paying a dollar in gift tax, as long as each recipient is a different person.

To write off any cash contributions, no matter how small, you need a canceled check, bank record or a receipt with the charity’s name and donation amount. That means that putting cash in the church collection plate or the Salvation Army bucket is a no-no if you want to be able to take a deduction for it. If you receive a donation, it might be subject to the federal gift tax, but you won’t have to pay that tax.

When you itemize your deductions, you can include not only charitable contributions, but also real estate taxes, mortgage interest, and medical expenses, among others. And remember, only contributions to certain organizations are tax deductible. You generally can make gifts to as many people that you want that are under the annual exclusion amount without filing a gift tax return or paying any gift taxes.

Keep in mind that gifts to political organizations and qualifying charities are exempt from this rule. It’s smart to enlist the help of a tax professional if you’re going to donate big-ticket items worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. For property donations, you will need to record the property’s fair market value – that’s what you will deduct.

In short, you must give to a registered non-profit organization (not individual) that operates as a true charity in order to take a tax deduction for the donation. If it sells the car, IRS rules state that it must inform you of the sale amount within 30 days, generally on a Form 1098-C. Regardless of whether it keeps or sells the car, the organization must provide you with a written acknowledgement that serves as your proof of the donation.

Deirdre Mundorf is a former teacher and freelance writer who most enjoys working with topics pertaining to home, family, and pets. She began freelance writing in 2019, after the birth of her first child, and has been contributing to since 2020. Donated clothing should be in gently-used condition and should not have any holes or large stains. Donated furniture should be functional, clean, and in gently used condition. You can also deduct the cost of driving to and from your volunteer work, at a rate of 14 cents per mile.

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