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Tax break for your used clothing

  • Blog Post by: Kara McGuire
  • December 22, 2011 - 2:37 PM

Around this time of year, our already modest-sized house starts to feel like a shoebox. Not only do the winter coats and boots for five people come out of storage, but two kid birthdays result in a house littered with even more Legos and stuffed animals than usual. And then the Christmas gifts start coming from distant relatives (don't get me started on Styrofoam packing peanuts).

Don't get me wrong. It's a great time of year and we are fortunate. But the clutter is enough to throw this mom into major purging mode.

Each year I struggle to decide how to value our gently used, but unwanted or needed goods. Fortunately, there are several resources, from a good old-fashioned book to phone apps, to make sure you aren't undervaluing or overvaluing your items.

"Money for Your Used Clothing" is a guide that values more than 1,200 items of used clothing and household goods. The book guarantees that individuals who use their guidelines will pay at least $250 less in income tax.

The guide retails for $25 plus $4 postage and handling.

There are far cheaper ways to estimate the value of your goods. TurboTax's It's Deductible allows you to keep track of your donations year-round online. If you use TurboTax to file your taxes, your charitable deductions will automatically be inputted on your taxes. Anyone who itemizes knows that can be a big pain.

If you'd rather input the value of your tax donations using your iPhone, there are a handful of applications that estimate your donation values. The nice thing about these apps, which range from free to $2.99, is that you can take a photo of the donated good, just in case the IRS questions your valuations.

How do you value the used items you donate to charity to receive a tax deduction (assuming you itemize your taxes). Or are you of the mind that no amount of money is worth the hassle of documenting each item you give away?

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