I used to be confused about how to value for tax deductibility purposes the items I donated. For a while I had my CPA do it for me when our taxes were done. Then I discovered It’s Deductible.
It’s Deductible is a program that helps you value your donations based on thrift store prices. Originally I bought it as a stand alone software program. Sometime during the last few years, Intuit bought it and I now access it online. The cost is $19.95. I’m not sure if that’s for one year or two. Right now if you purchase it at that price it covers the 2005 and 2006 tax years, but obviously most of us have already filed for 2005. It also is included when you purchase certain versions of Turbo Tax. Whatever the case it is worth every penny.
I found that I was greatly undervaluing my donations. My accountant tells me that is common. It’s Deductible lists a huge number of items and lets you choose what condition they are in: poor, fair, or good and then it assigns a value. I usually choose “fair” even though most of what I donate is in very good condition. Even with this conservative approach I am amazed at what my donations are worth.
It’s Deductible has the following categories:
- baby supplies
- computers and electronics
- household items
- lawn and garden
- custom items
- sports and recreation
Each category is broken down into subcategories. For instance clothing is broken down into boys, girls, mens, womens, infant, toddler, and designer. And then each subcategory is going to have a large number of individual items listed.
The clothing category is the one I make the most use of and almost anything I donate can be found there. Other categories are helpful too. For instance the rollerblades that my kids have outgrown and I’m getting ready to donate this week are listed under Sports and Recreation. And I’m always amazed at the breakdown on the toys. There are specific brands listed, such as Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Leap Frog.
Household items can be tougher; especially the knick knack kind of stuff. I tend to just throw those in the box and not worry about claiming them. In fact I do that with anything that’s the least bit hard to find on It’s Deductible. The savings on the rest of it more than makes up for it. I could even keep track of my mileage to and from donating the items if I wanted to.
And the best part for a computer/organization nerd like me is that it’s all saved on my computer and prints out in neat little reports at tax time. Heaven!