Maximizing Donations

hittletsApril 24, 2008

I am getting ready to do a thorough cleaning of my house, which will include many donations to Good Will. In the past when I have done my taxes (using the H&R block online) the maximum non-cash donation they allow is $500 without having to do additional paperwork (which seems complex), and the receipts that I get from my donations aren't that thorough. For example, if I donate a bag of clothes the receipt will say 'clothes.' It doesn't give a thorough explanation of what clothes were donated (like 2-suits, 3-sweaters, etc.).

Does anyone have experience or know the best way to document non-cash donations that will allow me to take the maximum donation I can?

In this cleaning that I plan on doing there will be a lot of clothes from the household, furniture, kitchen electronics, and other things that I find in my house that someone else could use. Should I get appraisals? Take pictures? write down details of the information?

Also, what is the best way to claim these donations with taxes (for 2008)? Would a good online tax program let me take larger donation?



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"Should I get appraisals? Take pictures? write down details of the information?

Maybe all of the above!

What you NEED is whatever will hold up if the IRS wants you to PROVE that what you donated was really worth what you claimed as a deduction.

My annual donation of used items is between $1200-$2000.
I go exclusively to my local YWCA Thrift Shop... because of their paperwork (yes, THEIR paperwork, not mine!).

I just drop off the items (boxed and labeled with my name and address - and BTW - the items have to be in very good condition now for a claim...). The Thrift Shop catalogs what I donated and what it sells for. At the end of the year, I get an IRS-approved form with the total amount of my donations' value.
So, it is not some random guess... it is what the items actually sold for... and virtually NO work on my part!

Good luck with your purging!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 1:34PM
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Western, thanks for your thoughts. I really like the YWCA where they provide the paperwork. I will have to see if there is a similar place in Cincinnati, where I live.

I guess what I didn't ask in my original post is, what does the IRS look for? What are good ways to substantiate donation? Does the IRS have a website for this (I looked but didn't see anything).


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 2:41PM
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Donating goods starts on page 7.

Here is a link that might be useful: IRS Charitable Contributions

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 3:27PM
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The IRS is looking for a list of the items donated with a "thrift store" value for each item. There are software programs available to help you track the items you donate.

Personally, I make an Excel spread sheet every time I make a donation. The spread sheet shows what I donated, the number of those items, a value per item and the total value. I staple the spread sheet to the receipt stash in my tax file.

Salvation Army, Goodwill and probably many other organizations have lists on their websites of suggested values for items donated.

I suggest backing up your list with a picture of the items before you put them in the bags.

All items have to be in good condition or you can't claim a deduction for them.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:31PM
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