How much do I claim from donations?

Michelle_SAugust 9, 2003

I just dropped off a truckload of stuff to Goodwill, and the guy gave me a receipt and told me to fill it out. Most of it was designer clothing and nice household goods, retail value probably over $10,000.

What do I put on the receipt for tax purposes? Someone told me I could claim half of the purchase price, but I am a bit leery of doing that. What is the value?


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You can claim the thrift store or garage sale prices you would expect to PAY for those items. There is software out there that will help you calculate the value of donated items. Some thirft stores have a list of possible resale prices for clothes and household goods. My experience is that most people tend to understate the value of their donated items; however, 50% of the purchase price might be overstating.

Just in case you get audited, you need to have a list with values shown for each item donated.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2003 at 9:18PM
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H&R block has a good price list for donated items..

Azarae D.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2003 at 9:36PM
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Here is a pretty good site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Donated Items value

    Bookmark   August 11, 2003 at 3:56PM
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With that large a donation, I would suggest a detailed receipt from the organization. Probably too late now, I guess!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2003 at 11:21PM
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Goodwill's around here never itemize, no matter the size of the donation. I'm not sure why. They always give me the blank, dated, tax confirmation sheet and leave it up to me to fill out.

When I have a large donation, I inventory as I load up my van. Then I take a quick photo to keep in my tax records in case of audit.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2003 at 7:56AM
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TREKaren - and others in the same boat,

When you make your inventory and take your pictures, how about getting the people at Goodwill to check it as unloaded and sign the inventory sheet?

Have you ever asked them and they refused?

How about taking the picture(s) at their shop, preferably with something in the picture that will give at least partial verification of the location, e.g. other similar items, "Goodwill" sign (even if portable, held in staff person's hand)? If it's a Polaroid, getting the staff person to sign the back of the picture?

Extra verification like that may well be helpful if (when?) you may be audited.

In addition, if Goodwill makes a habit of giving out blank receipts (sort of in the same ball park as giving away blank cheques), this habit may (almost surely will) come to the attention of the income tax people. In which case they may well target people with such receipts.

When such a person appears, ask a number of searching questions, require complex verification. So the more precise, complete and iron-clad your verification, the better.

Good wishes for continuing to live in unaudited (more or less) bliss - if you know how one may refer to "income tax" and "bliss" in the same sentence.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   August 18, 2003 at 12:15PM
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They give you an inventory sheet, signed already. It's the honor system for you to fill out. Another signature would not really endorse it with any extra validity. So there is no one but yourself to confirm the donation in case of audit. Which is why I always just do a photo.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2003 at 11:20AM
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That's what the Salvation Army does in my area. So does the library. I sometimes donate to a local boys/girls home & they do something similar. They ask when they pick up what value you place on the items. Then they send a letter verifying receipt of the items & mention a few of the larger ones - "Thank you for your donation of a chair, vacuum cleaner & other household items that you valued at $100.00" I take photos for my records too. I don't think most of these places want to take time to inventory the stuff that minute while you wait.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2003 at 6:56PM
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