Claiming Tax Deductions

Sallie has a question regarding my post “Charities and Tax Deductions 101

Hadias — How does the donation thing work for taxes? I have given a lot of items to salvation army this year but I didn’t take pics or get a receipt. Is it too late? I gave big items too like dining room chairs, desk, bookshelves, bunk beds, and big bags of clothes. Thanks!

No Sallie, it is not to late.If you itemize deductions on your federal tax return, you are entitled to claim a charitable deduction for your charitable donations. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a taxpayer can deduct the fair market value of clothing, household goods, used furniture, shoes, books and so forth.

If you make a non-cash contribution of less than $250, you must get and keep a receipt from the charitable organization showing:

1.The name of the charitable organization,
2.The date and location of the charitable contribution, and
3.A reasonably detailed description of the property.
4.List the fair market value of each item at the time of contribution and how you figured it.

A letter or other written communication from the charitable organization acknowledging receipt of the contribution and containing information in (1), (2) and (3) will serve as a receipt. You are not required to get a receipt where it is impractical to get one (for example, a charity’s unattended drop off site.)

You must keep copies of these records. For contributions exceeding more than $250 click the following link to the IRS or contact your tax advisor.

Figuring the Fair Market Value
Fair market value is the price a willing buyer would pay for an item. Value usually depends on the condition of the item. By law, a charity cannot tell you what your donated items are worth. This is something you must do yourself. I use Goodwill’s pre-calculated list.

If you don’t want to use the pre-calculated list simply click on the following link for the formula to determine the value of donated property . This link defines “fair market value” and helps donors determine the value of donated property. It also explains what kind of information you must have to support the charitable contribution deduction you claim on your return. (Publication 561)

Charitable Contributions – This link explains which organizations are qualified to receive deductible charitable contributions, the types of contributions you can deducts, how much you can deduct, what records to keep, and how to report charitable contributions (Publication 526)

Consult a local tax advisor who should be familiar with market values in your region or, review the tax guides available from the IRS.


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