We’re not exactly sure why springtime inspires us to start cleaning and decluttering. But, we’re grateful for the motivation in any case.
It can be bittersweet to let some of your belongings go, but we think it’s worth the sentimental struggle to be liberated from clutter. Plus, if you’re able to find a charitable organization to take your items, you can do a little good for your community and add to your bottom line as a tax deduction.
Here are three basic steps that can help you turn clutter into a charitable donation.
1. Ask Yourself: Is My Trash Another Man’s Treasure?
Sometimes spring cleaning unearths artifacts that really should go straight to the dump. You’ll need to assess what’s good for giving and what’s good for scrapping.
Goodwill offers some guidelines for what makes goods worthy of donation. Some tips:
- Wash or dry-clean clothing you intend to donate
- Only donate appliances, toys, and other items that work
- Include all parts and manuals that you still have
- Check with the charity regarding its terms for donating computers and vehicles
2. Find an Organization to Accept Your Donation
Organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and local houses of worship are often the first stop for those giving to charity. But if you’d rather donate to groups that fund your personal interests, you can find them online.
Charity Navigator lists more than 8,000 charities across different areas of interest such as animals, the environment, health, arts, culture, and humanitarian work. You can search for a charity by name, location, or cause, and then locate contact information to connect with that organization directly.
3. Keep the Paperwork for Tax Purposes
Before you start dropping off your items for donation,
You should first assign values to them for tax purposes. The Salvation Army offers a donation value guide to help you appraise the worth of air conditioners, old slacks, TVs, and everything in between, giving you suggested low and high dollar ranges for each. Cars may be valued at the going resale rate.
When tax time comes, you’ll need to remember two things. First, you can only claim deductions on gifts to tax-exempt charitable and religious groups. Second, your return must list itemized deductions — taking the standard deduction won’t allow you to deduct charity donations. For additional information, see IRS Topic 506 — Charitable Donations.
What kinds of goods have you donated to charity? What has donating to charity done for your tax bill?