CPA & Business Advisory Blog

Toss the Trinkets! Three Money-Motivating Reasons to Donate Your Garage Sale Leftovers

Garage sale season is upon us.  What to do with the leftover boxes of unwanted clothes, household items and furniture still in good condition. Non-cash donations to a qualified charitable organization are deductible.  Here are some guidelines on what you need to claim the deduction on your 2013 tax return.

  1. For non-cash donations less than $250, a receipt is not required if it is not practical to get one. 
    For example, items left in unattended drop boxes.
  2. For all non-cash contributions over $250, you must get and keep a receipt from the charitable organization, showing the date and location of the contribution, and a description of the property donated.  You will also need the fair value (the amount at which someone can sell the property) of the donation and how you calculated the fair value.  For securities donations regularly traded on an exchange, published daily values are sufficient for determining fair value.
  3. Keep a detailed list of the items donated.  Avoid listing “boxes and bags of clothes”.  Support your donation with detail, such as “five women’s sweaters”.  Many charitable organizations publish valuation guides for your convenience. 

The Salvation Army has a great online guide to help you value your goods :

If you donate more than $500 in non-cash donations in a year, Form 8283 must accompany your 1040 return.  This form details the qualified charitable organizations, the dates of the donations and a description of the property donated.

For any non-cash donations over $5,000, additional information is required (such as an appraisal by a qualified appraiser). 

Additional restrictions also apply for donations of cars, ordinary income property, capital gain property, intellectual property and qualified conservation propertySee your tax advisor if you are considering making donations of this nature.

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