I have wanted to do this post for a very long time but, unlike in the US, here in Canada we are unable to track the drop-off donations we bring to a thrift store for tax purposes. As a result I really didn’t feel qualified to tell you how it’s done. So I’ve brought in the best of the best. Geralin Thomas, a very well known Professional Organizer in the US, is here to help simplify the matter for us. I appreciate her time and attention to this post and I do hope you find it helpful. Welcome Geralin!
Winter! The days are short, the nights are long and we tend to spend more time indoors – surrounded by our belongings. It’s the perfect season to rid our homes of unwanted stuff and by that I mean things that we no longer use, like, want or need. Items like: clothes, handbags, luggage, furniture, decorative items, toasters, costume jewelry, or artwork to name a few. In other words, clutter.
Less clutter means more space and more unoccupied space means less time spent maintaining items; less time spent maintaining items means more free time to do whatever it is we want to do. As a professional organizer, one thing I feel confident saying is that very few of us, the well-organized among us included, want to spend more time doing laundry, dusting, vacuuming and maintaining our ‘stuff.’ We want to hang out with our families and friends doing fun activities. Or, doing nothing at all. Fortunately, we have options. Many options.
Options for permanently decluttering stuff include consigning or selling on eBay or a yard sale. If you’ve ever hosted a yard sale you know they can be a lot of work. They are time consuming and aren’t always profitable. While some folks think consigning and selling are well-worth their time and effort, others believe the opposite to be true. They’d much rather simply donate their stuff to a charity.
How to Track Drop-Off Donations for Tax Purposes
Donating goods not only helps us declutter, it also helps us financially by earning tax write-offs. Plus, in addition to earning a tax write off, it’s nice to know we are helping the needy while decluttering our closets, countertops and cabinets.
What to Donate:
Accessories, Shoes, Boots (belts, handbags, scarves, etc.)
Art and Decorative Household Items (clocks, knick-knacks)
Appliances (small items: blenders, toasters)
Books, CDs, DVDs, Tapes, Vinyl records
Camping Equipment and Sporting Goods
Collectibles (stamps, books, coins)
Computers and Electronics (check before bringing these in)
Furniture (smaller items: lamps, decorative tables, ottomans)
Household Items (dishes, cookware, artificial plants)
Toys and Bikes (provided they are safe and not under recall)
Working Small Appliances (toasters, blenders)
What Not to Donate:
Items recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (check www.cpsc.gov for a list of recalled items)
Appliances (fridge, stove, washer/dryer, etc.)
Broken Items (appliances and/or electronics)
Building supplies (lumber, concrete, brick, stones, etc.)
Food, Drugs, Vitamins
Furniture (contaminated or in disrepair)
Mattresses and Box Springs
Newspapers, Magazines, Junk Mail
Paint, Toxic Chemicals, Used Batteries
Weapons (ammunition, guns, knives, swords, pepper spray)
Limits and Itemization:
This information, from the Turbo Tax blog (September 12, 2012) helps clarify exactly how much can be deducted.
The limits for how much you can donate to charity don’t affect many of us. The deduction is limited to 50% of your income, and donations of property to certain organizations, such as veterans’ organizations, fraternal societies, nonprofit cemeteries, and certain private non-operating foundations, or to be used by an organization, are limited to 30% of your income. Unless the stuff in your closets is really, really valuable, those limitations probably won’t impact you.
To get a tax deduction for donations, you must itemize your deductions. That means your eligible tax deductions, must exceed the IRS standard deduction (in 2012, $5,950 if you are single, $11,900 if married, and $8,700 if head of household.)
Assigning a Value to Donations:
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help us determine how much our stuff is worth. Here’s a list of a few places:
Donation Tracking Tools:
iDonatedIt app for iPhone ~ $2.99
Drop-Off Donation Log ~ FREE
Donation Tracking Sheet ~ FREE
Donation Tracker Printable ~ FREE
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that we should only donate things that are in good condition – - the things we’d feel good about giving to a friend.
Geralin Thomas is the owner of Metropolitan Organizing, LLC. She lives in Cary, NC with her husband and 2 teen sons. Geralin and her team of professional organizers offer a variety of organizing services related to homes and home offices. In addition, Geralin offers professional organizer training through one-on-one telephone and Skype sessions for new organizers from all over the world. Oh, and if Geralin looks familiar to you, it’s because she’s regularly featured on AETV’s Emmy-nominated TV show, “Hoarders”. When she’s not working, she enjoys watching documentaries and reading blogs.
Although the information contained here is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, it is general in nature and is not intended as professional tax advice.