Making the Most of Non-Cash Charitable Donations

During the year everyone clears out their closets and donates clothes and household goods to local non-profit organizations.  If you itemize your deductions on your federal income tax return, those donations can be tax-dollar savers. To help you determine the value of your non-cash donations, here are some helpful hints.

Make a list of the donated property, being sure to make a separate list for each bag or box that is donated. At the top of the list, write the name and address of the charity along with the date the donation was made. Taking a picture of the items being donated will also help verify the quality and condition of the items.

Divide the list into several columns and complete as accurately as possible:

  • Description of item
  • Quantity (number of shirts, slacks, sweaters, etc)
  • Condition of item (good or better)
  • Fair market value at the time of the donation
  • Date acquired and cost basis (if known)

The Internal Revenue Service allows a deduction for the fair market value at the time of donation. That value can be determined by an appraisal, through a catalog or using thrift shop values.

Below is a list of various items that are usually available at the Salvation Army and Goodwill donation centers with a high-low range of values for items in good condition (means appliances are in working order and clothing or bedding items are clean and not torn).

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*Remember: These values are a guideline for those items you donate and are based on the condition of the item. Your list(s) and receipts(s) will not be attached to your tax return unless the aggregate total of the items exceeds $500, but will be part of your records in the event your tax return is selected for audit.