Deducting In-Kind Donations

May 18, 2009
Special Feature

When you clean out your closets or your garage and donate clothing, sporting goods, or unused appliances to a charity, how do you figure out how much the stuff is worth so you can deduct that amount?

When you filled out Schedule A of your 1040, did you remember to claim all the non-cash donations you made to charity? Keeping track of some donations is fairly easy; you probably have a receipt from the charity or a canceled check. But when you clean out your closets or your garage and donate clothing, sporting goods, or unused appliances to a charity, how do you figure out how much the stuff is worth so you can deduct that amount? How do you calculate the value of a man’s suit, a woman’s dress, or a set of golf clubs?

One place to find help is at ItsDeductible, from Intuit’s Turbotax. You can use this website free of charge to put a value on non-cash donations and keep track of the total amount donated. Items are divided into more than 20 categories, including clothing and accessories, toys and games, musical instruments, sporting goods, and major appliances. You get an estimated value, based on condition, for each item. The site will also total up your donations and give you a ballpark figure on your tax savings, based on your tax bracket and your filing status. The site can also handle cash and stock donations and keep track of any mileage you drive for a charity.

Tighter IRS rules on non-cash donations means you need receipts for everything you donate. This can get sticky if the charity just gives you a generic receipt without itemizing what’s in that bag of clothes you donated. ItsDeductible has a solution to that, too - just print out your itemized list from the website and attach it to the charity’s generic receipt. For major appliances, you can also take a picture of the item and attach it to the receipt.