Where to donate thousands of comics?
May 22, 2005 7:30 PM   Subscribe

I have around 20+ long boxes full of comics that I'd like to get rid of. Is it possible to donate them and receive a charitable donation tax credit? If so, where?

Most of the comics date from 1990-2002, so it's unlikely any of them are worth much. I'll be cataloguing them in a couple weeks and cherry pick the few I want to hold on to or think might sell well on eBay.

I'm looking for places in the St. Petersburg or Orlando area that will take the donations and let me deduct from my taxes. I'd prefer donating to a place where kids can get their hands on them. Also, what type of value should I expect for the donations (per comic)?
posted by gaelenh to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
If you donate them to the Goodwill, they give you a blank form and you fill in the their worth yourself. That has been my experience anyway.

So, go grab a price guide.
posted by mischief at 7:40 PM on May 22, 2005

Wow, do you think he could get away with deducting the guide price from his taxes, mischief? I'm no accountant, but I'd think if there were suddenly a huge tax deduction one year from a charitable donation, he'd raise some suspicions.

Anyway, if I were in your shoes, gaelenh, I'd get the phone book and look for children's hospitals or pediatric care centers. I don't know if any local libraries or schools would be interested or not. One thing I'd be especially mindful of, though, is going through and weeding out anything that could be even remotely construed as "mature" reading, especially in these times.

Whether or not you can deduct them, and what valuation you can use for the deduction, is really something you should talk to an accountant about if it's going to be substantial. 20 long boxes, figuring 200 books in each box, is 4000 comics. At a buck a piece, you might raise some red flags, but maybe at a dime each, you'd be okay.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:56 PM on May 22, 2005

I read of a similar situation where the person had a bunch of items, they sold a few of them to establish the value per unit, then donated the rest, writing off the established value. Perhaps sort the comics into lots of 20, and put some of the lots on ebay to establish the market value?

If you've got receipts to back up your valuation, then you could write off a large amount and if it raises any suspicions, you've got the proof.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:04 PM on May 22, 2005

Sure he can, Steve. Walk into a comics store and check their prices. Pretty much on par with a price guide.

Realize though: comics as new as gaelenh's will generally be valued in guides at a fraction of their cover price.
posted by mischief at 8:17 PM on May 22, 2005

I don't know how much they're worth, but if your contribution is worth more than $5000, it'll require a third party appraisal.

If it'll be more than $250 you'll just need written acknowledgement from the charity, but the form they hand you takes care of that, (I'm guessing).

You're only allowed to deduct 50% of your AGI, and some donated items only allow you to deduct 20 - 30%.

This is information is on www.irs.gov (more specifically, here- warning: it's a pdf)- print it out and you MAY have a leg to stand on if you get audited- metafilter hearsay won't work. Auditors aren't renowned for being with it- you or your accountant will have to teach them their job, literally. Experienced auditors are for higher up the tax-fraud food chain.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:59 PM on May 22, 2005

Clarification: I'm not suggesting you're anywhere on the tax fraud food chain. What I MEANT to say is that the auditors who know what they're doing get assigned to more complex audit cases. Sorry about that.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:01 PM on May 22, 2005

There are undoubtedly some university libraries that might be very interested in a collection like this, and whose staff would be able to give you some good advice. I'm sorry I can't be more specific -- I just don't know enough about the field -- but it would be worth doing a search to find schools that have very strong programs and/or library holdings in popular culture/cultural studies.
posted by sophieblue at 10:48 PM on May 22, 2005

As a librarian at a university library, I'd have to say that if you're going to donate them to a university with strong pop culture holdings, make sure you communicate with the library's acquisitions dept. first. Plenty of donations are discarded. You have to take into account the fact that each comic has to be cataloged in order to add it to a library collection. That can be a ton of work.

My suggestion is to donate it to a local library that has a large friends organization. I serve on the Friends Board of my city's library, and also volunteer in their bookshop. We get lots of comic book donations and don't discard them. The pediatric hospital idea is also a really great one.
posted by fabesfaves at 8:02 AM on May 23, 2005


they accept donated comics and sent them to libraries and other places.
posted by Stynxno at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2005

I second (third?) the idea of donating them to your local library. They will likely give you a receipt to fill out for the value, and they *should* be happy to have them. The library where I work has received a ton from one guy the past two years. The anthologies we've been able to add into the Teen section, but not the individual books (because of their fragile nature).
posted by ArcAm at 8:36 AM on May 23, 2005

If you are going to donate and are at all worried about an audit, I would recommend taking photos of the open boxes open (in aggregate, you don't need one photo per box) and making a quick and dirty list of their contents for back-up (20 ea. of XYZ comic, etc.). When you make donations, they are pretty much untraceable by an auditor, but you would have a list and photos (as well as the receipt) to substantiate any charitable claim you made. Also, if you donate to a state institution (university library, etc.) you can usually take that charitable donation on your state return as well. Ask your accountant at tax time.
posted by blackkar at 9:29 AM on May 23, 2005

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