deducting the value of your non cash charitable contributions

when you do your taxes this year, don’t forget to deduct the fair market value of your non cash charitable contributions.  they can add up quickly.

here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • clothing and household items donated must generally be in good used condition or better to be deductible.
  • if you make any non cash contribution, you must get and keep a receipt from the charitable organization showing: 1) the name of the charitable organization, 2) the date and location of the charitable contribution, and 3) a reasonably detailed description of the property. you are not required to have a receipt where it is impractical to get one (for example, if you leave property at a charity’s unattended drop site).
  • to claim a deduction for contributions of cash or property equaling $250 or more you must obtain a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization showing the amount of the cash and a description of any property contributed, and whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift.
  • if you claim a deduction of more than $500 for all contributed property, you must attach irs form 8283, noncash charitable contributions, to your return.
  • taxpayers donating an item or a group of similar items valued at more than $5,000 must also complete section b of form 8283, which requires an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.
  • to determine the fair market value of a charitable contribution, there are no fixed formulas or methods. you should claim as the value the price that buyers of used items actually pay in used clothing stores, such as consignment or thrift shops.  the salvation army offers a value guide to get you started. 

if you have questions regarding the process of deducting your non cash charitable contributions, you can find the heavy reading right here or consult a tax professional.

and as 2010 begins and your minimalizing continues, keep these guidelines close so that you can collect and store the appropriate paperwork for next year.

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Joshua Becker

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Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    This is something I have trouble with every year…taxes. We have six apartments that we own and yet somehow we manage to owe in taxes each year. Much of that blame falls squarely on me because I get lazy about tracking expenses throughout the year and inevitably forget minor repairs that I could write off. I also forget to get receipts for every time I donate books to the library or they’ll give me a half filled out receipt and I forget what I gave them so I can’t write it all off.

    I think that if I could remain diligent about this one tax, I could not only save the couple of thousand I pay in taxes each year, but also make a modest return.

    Oh well, all I can do is start today by being more diligent. Thank you for the information.

    – Charley

  2. says

    You will receive a deduction of at least $500 on your itemized Federal tax return when you donate your car to charity. Cars4Charities has hundreds of charities for you to donate a car to. Car donations are really easy and can be done anytime at You can even donate your car that doesn’t start. When you donate a car, you and the charity both win.

  3. says

    These are great quick-tips. Thanks for sharing! Though this year’s tax season is coming to a close, it’s never to early to start planning for next year. Thank you for mentioning that non-cash donations require receipts. For larger, more complex non-cash gifts (i.e. real estate), an appraisal will be needed.

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