Non-Monetary Contributions

When you give away household items like clothing, appliances and other goods to a qualified charity, your generosity can add up to a tax write-off if you itemize your deductions.

Ainer & Fraker, LLP confirms that the amount of your deduction is generally the donated property’s “fair market value” (i.e., the price similar property would sell for in the open market).

Unfortunately, one of the most difficult problems connected with noncash donations is determining their FMV. In fact, when you give away property of high value, the job of determining worth is best left in the hands of a professional appraiser. Or, when you donate property that has increased in value, special tax rules apply and you should consult with an attorney before you make your donation.

The guidelines offered below are provided as aids for setting value on the most common type of noncash donations (miscellaneous personal items) that have decreased in value since the time they were first acquired:

  • Used Clothing: The IRS provides no set formula for valuing clothing items. However, keep in mind that the fair market value of used clothing and other personal items is usually much less than what you paid for them. A visit to a local thrift shop may help give you an idea of current selling prices for items like yours.
  • Household Goods: The value of used household goods (e.g., furniture and appliances) is also much less than their original cost. If the property is worn, inoperable or out of style, it may have little or no market value. However, photographs, purchase receipts, and newspaper ads describing similar property should help support a valuation.
  • Cars and Other Vehicles: Congress imposed some tough rules that substantially limit the deduction for this popular charitable donation.

For more information, be sure to click the following link for more on Record Keeping and Reporting of Non-Cash donations.