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.
your donation must be to a qualified organization to be tax deductible
a “tax-exempt” organization doesn’t mean that it’s a “tax-deductible” donation
check IRS publication 78 to see if the organization is qualified
churches and governments are automatically qualified
get a receipt for every donation
you must itemize your deductions on your tax return to be able to take a charitable donation deduction
to itemize, your deductions must be more than the standard deduction
you can only deduct the fair market value for an item
fair market value takes into account an item’s condition and age — it’s not what you paid for the item
IRS publication 526 will help you determine your values
you need a written appraisal for donations of $5000 or more
you may deduct the mileage for dropping off donations
contact the IRS when in doubt about your deduction
get the charity’s information in writing — name, address, and telephone number
find out the charity’s mission — ask how your donation will be used
check with the Better Business Bureau in your area
see if the charity is registered with your state at www.nasconet.org
find out how much is spent on services versus administration
check out the charity’s finances, tax records, or annual report
be wary of overly-sentimental appeals
watch out for names that are similar to larger charities
“tax-exempt” or “tax ID” don’t mean your donation is deductible
“keep for your records” doesn’t mean your donation is deductible
get proof that your donation will be tax deductibleClick here for reuse options!
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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 RamonaCreel.com.
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