Wednesday, November 23, 2016


As you prepare your home for the holidays now is a good time to clean out your closets, attic, or garage and donate what you no longer want or need that is still in good condition to a church or charity and get a 2016 tax deduction.
You can claim a deduction for the “fair market value” of used appliances, books, clothing, computer hardware and software, electronics, furniture, household items, toys, videos, etc., etc. donated to a qualifying church or charity.  According to the IRS, fair market value is the price a “willing, knowledgeable buyer would pay a willing, knowledgeable seller when neither has to buy or sell.”  
You are responsible for determining the fair market value of the items you are donating.  The charity to which you make the donation is not required to provide you with a value.
Make and keep a detailed listing of what you are donating with the condition and value of each set of items (i.e. 6 pairs of men’s pants, good condition, $60.00, 5 pairs of men’s shoes, good condition, $75.00).  You may want to attach a copy of the listing to your 2016 Form 1040.  
You cannot deduct the contribution of a used item of clothing or household item unless the item is in at least "good" condition.  Donations of clothing and household items with a minimal monetary value, such as used socks or underwear, are also not deductible.
What about new items of food, toys, clothing, etc. you may donate to a church or charity for Thanksgiving food drives or holiday campaigns like “Toys for Tots”?  You can deduct the actual cost of the items donated.  You should make a separate purchase of the items you will donate – don’t group together with the purchase of personal use items – and save the store receipt. 
If the total amount donated to a church or charity is more than $250.00 you must have a “contemporaneous” written acknowledgement from the organization with its name and address, the date of the contribution, and a brief description of the item(s) donated (used clothes, toys, used furniture, etc). 
To be able to claim a deduction for the full amount of your contribution the acknowledgement (any acknowledgement of any contribution more than $250.00, whether cash or non-cash) must also indicate the statement “no goods or services were provided in exchange for the donation”, and must be received before the earlier of the date the original tax return is filed or the extended due date of the tax return.
Obviously this is only a tax benefit if you are able to itemize on Schedule A.  Be aware that the Standard Deduction amounts for 2016 are –
·   Single and Married Filing Separate = $6,300
·   Married Filing Joint and Qualifying Widow(er) = $12,600
·   Head of Household = $9,300
So give this holiday season – but give wisely and keep good records of your giving.

 It’s that time of the year again –
time for year-end tax planning!
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