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Question:


I donate a lot of clothes to Goodwill each year. How detailed should I get in itemizing and tracking these donations for my tax returns?
-Maddie P


Answer:


First off, you can write off donations only if you itemize deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you’re out of luck. The amount that you can write off is the fair market value of the items that you give to Goodwill (or any other recognized charity). According to the Internal Revenue Service, “fair market value is generally the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts.” Implicit in that, and stated explicitly elsewhere in the IRS rules on charitable giving, is that property – your clothes in this case – must be in good condition. And if you intend to donate items worth at least $250, the IRS says you’ll need Goodwill to provide “a written acknowledgment . . . showing . . . a description of any property contributed.” That suggests that you won’t need an inventory of items if you’re claiming less than that. Goodwill may not provide one, in either case. Just to be on the safe side, make your own list of what you donated, when you bought it and for how much, if you remember, and what condition it was in.

-Conrad de Aenlle



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