Tracking Donations for Tax Purposes

My preferred way for disposing of stuff that’s too good to throw away, such as the items in the above photo, is to pass it on to friends or family, or to donate it to charity.

Yes, I could possibly sell this stuff, but selling it means I first need to identify a place to sell it such as consignment shop, ebay, Craig’s list or a garage sale.  Then I need to take the stuff to the consignment store, post it on ebay or Craig’s list, or set up and man a garage sale. If the stuff sells I need to ship it, deliver it, or help someone get it to their car.  If it doesn’t sell I need to find a place to donate it to.  Because these steps take time and time is money to me, I choose to skip all of the intermediate steps and donate my excess stuff.

Donating is a great way to release things, especially because donating to charity may result in a tax deduction for the donation on your federal tax return.  (Your ability to claim such a deduction is dependent on whether or not you itemize your deductions and may be limited based upon your adjusted gross income and other factors.) The rules can get complex, so it’s best to check with your tax professional to see how you might benefit from donating your stuff to charity.

Donating is easy.  Just follow these steps:

  1. Identify a charity you think might benefit from your donations.  Cuyahoga County’s Solid Waste District has a wonderful guide to donating your stuff, titled Pass It On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff.  Even if you don’t live in Cuyahoga County it might give you some ideas of types of places to look for in your own community.
  2. Take a picture of the stuff you’re donating.  This photo will be used to help substantiate your donation.
  3. Make a list of the stuff you’re donating.  This list will again, help substantiate your donation.  In addition, you will use this list when you assign values to your donations.
  4. Drop off your items and be sure to get a donation receipt.  This receipt, along with your photo and list are great documentation of your donation.
  5. The last step is valuing your donation, which is described in a previous post titled Valuing Donations at Tax Time.  

Thanks for choosing to donate!  You’re keeping stuff out of landfills and creating an opportunity for others to benefit from your cast-offs.



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