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Tax Deductions For Charitable Donations

Donating unwanted items is a win-win-win situation — the charity benefits from your generosity, someone else will find a use for your things, and you can get a nice deduction on your tax return. Just make sure you follow the rules or that deduction could raise a red flag with the IRS.

Avoiding Tax Traps

Checkmark-Iconyour donation must be to a qualified organization to be tax deductible

Xmark-Icona “tax-exempt” organization doesn’t mean that it’s a “tax-deductible” donation

Checkmark-Iconcheck IRS publication 78 to see if the organization is qualified

Xmark-Iconchurches and governments are automatically qualified

Checkmark-Iconget a receipt for every donation

Xmark-Iconyou must itemize your deductions on your tax return to be able to take a charitable donation deduction

Checkmark-Iconto itemize, your deductions must be more than the standard deduction

Know How Much You Can Deduct

Xmark-Iconyou can only deduct the fair market value for an item

Checkmark-Iconfair market value takes into account an item’s condition and age — it’s not what you paid for the item

Xmark-IconIRS publication 526 will help you determine your values

Checkmark-Iconyou need a written appraisal for donations of $5000 or more

Xmark-Iconyou may deduct the mileage for dropping off donations

Checkmark-Iconcontact the IRS when in doubt about your deduction

Verifying The Charity

Xmark-Iconget the charity’s information in writing — name, address, and telephone number

Checkmark-Iconfind out the charity’s mission — ask how your donation will be used

Xmark-Iconcheck with the Better Business Bureau in your area

Checkmark-Iconsee if the charity is registered with your state at

Xmark-Iconfind out how much is spent on services versus administration

Checkmark-Iconcheck out the charity’s finances, tax records, or annual report

visit,, or

Ways To Protect Yourself

Xmark-Iconbe wary of overly-sentimental appeals

Checkmark-Iconwatch out for names that are similar to larger charities

Xmark-Icon“tax-exempt” or “tax ID” don’t mean your donation is deductible

Checkmark-Icon“keep for your records” doesn’t mean your donation is deductible

Xmark-Iconget proof that your donation will be tax deductible

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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