How Donations Can Help Your Bottom Line
For years, I have gone through the motions of cleaning out my closet every two times a year or so. It’s always an undertaking that I dread, but always feel better about after the fact. Whether I was tossing Christmas gifts from well-intentioned but off the mark relatives that I didn’t have the heart to return, items that no longer fit, things I had forgotten I owned, or simply items that were no longer my style, I painstakingly maul over each and every piece of clothing before making my decision. I have the Keep Pile, The Donate Pile, The Trash Pile, and then like any true hoarder, the Maybe Pile. The Maybe Pile is usually larger than all the rest and slowly over the course of two days, I whittle it down until I can move items to other piles with piece of mind intact. Sometimes I find buried treasure in good condition that I’d forgotten about. Because I’m so stoked to be finding it, I don’t want to give it away, never mind that it clearly wasn’t that important to me because I never wore the item to begin with….and then there are the pieces that I’ve had since I was in my early 20’s and I’m just sure that I’ll fit into again one day….
When I’ve finally resurfaced from my closet, I usually have at least one bag of clothing that is heading for the local Goodwill. (Once I donate, I then get to go inside and shop guilt free because I now have to repurchase staple pieces because I have gaps in my wardrobe, or so says my shopaholic brain. But that’s a story for another day.)
For years, I’ve been completing this ritual. As I’m only an occasional donor, I never gave much thought to writing off my donations. I’m always asked by the attend manning the drive through, but because of the amount I donate and how sporadically I donate, it seems like it would be more effort than it was worth at the end of the year to write it off.
However, if you regularly attend storage auctions, you are more than familiar with the necessity of donating goods. While you may find many hidden treasures buried within your locker, you will more than likely have to dig through some trash to find it. However, you may also simply be digging through items that you feel you’d have a hard time reselling, but are still in good condition. These items are perfect for donating if you have no other means of selling them and you want them out of your hair.
The good news is that while writing off my donations seems a bit like overkill, if you’re a regular auction attendee and purchaser, this is an important deduction method for you at the end of the year. However, you have to make sure that you are well versed in the necessary paperwork and have crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s to make sure that everything you’ve donated can actually be deducted during everybody’s favorite time of the year. The IRS has published Eight Tips for Deducting Charitable Deductions, so visit the link for specific information straight from the horses mouth.
Goodwill has published a helpful guide on valuing the items that you donate on a regular basis, based on items that are sold in their stores most commonly.
One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
The old saying sometimes holds true. What you consider trash, may be considered treasure by another shopper. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t always the case and that nobody appreciates plain old trash.
While it may seem easy to just take whatever you don’t want to Goodwill or similar donation centers, remember that the employees don’t appreciate the trash anymore than you do. Responsibly donate for good karma along with those tax deductible write-offs. Here’s a quick checklist for donating goods from Goodwill.
- Wash or dry clean clothing.
- Test electrical equipment and battery-operated items.
- Include all pieces and parts to children’s games and toys.
- Check with your local Goodwill Industries agency to determine standards for donating computers and vehicles.
- Leave items unattended outside a collection center.
- Donate broken or soiled items.
- Give items that have been recalled, banned, or do not meet current safety standards. For more information about questionable items, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission.