I didn't document all my donations.How do I handle the tax deductibles?
April 17, 2014 10:15 AM   Subscribe

I donated four large bags of clothes to a Goodwill. They gave me a general signed receipt that confirms I donated something, but it is not itemized or contain a value on it. Should I just estimate this value when doing my taxes next year? Or will that be problematic?

The man who took my donation estimated it was worth about $400. Since I do not have any proof or documentation of this, I thought I'd just estimate the contents (ex: 40 pants @ $4 each). Can this turn out to be a problem with the IRS later? Would they even audit a nobody like me? I realize now I should have taken photos or something.
posted by WCF to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I used It's Deductible with Turbo Tax. I take a SWAG at what I donated, 6 pairs womens shoes, 4 pairs jeans, etc.

It totals it up for me.

That's about all you really need to do.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:18 AM on April 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

Like Ruthless Bunny said, TurboTax has a way to estimate the contents. We donated literally an entire household full of stuff and still didn't come close to meeting the standard deduction for a married couple, so depending on what other stuff you plan to itemize, it may not even be worth the bother.
posted by desjardins at 10:20 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

We itemize our taxes every year (thanks, extraordinarily high but eminently deductible property taxes!) and donate a lot of stuff to charity. Just write down what you donated and estimate the value. Some documentation of it is all you need, and by documentation I mean you writing down what you donated. Pictures are unnecessary.
posted by bedhead at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah. I did the same thing as desjardins, painstakingly, and then nearly cried when I realized I had wasted time for nothing. Check first that it's useful, but if not, TurboTax does have good tools for it.
posted by corb at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nthing that I spent a whole bunch of time itemizing all my donations (using TurboTax) and also did not come close to meeting the standard deduction.
posted by lovableiago at 10:28 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Goodwill also offers a Valuation Guide for Goodwill Donors (PDF) that may come in handy.
posted by kittydelsol at 10:46 AM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I just fill in the forms myself and estimate the value. I've done this for years and years and it's never been challenged.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 11:00 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

My accountant wanted the original value of the clothes; I multiplied the donation value by 8.
posted by brujita at 11:04 AM on April 17, 2014

I write down a list of the items when bagging them up, because it's easier to do that than when at the store, then guesstimate based upon the price they sell for in the store, which is smack in the middle of the ranges in that official guide kittydelsol linked. Clip the note to the receipt, and it's there when I need it.

While the federal standard deduction may take precedence, there are sometimes state credits or deductions for donations that kick in at different thresholds: for instance, NC had a credit for non-itemizers for 2013, although it goes away this year.
posted by holgate at 1:02 PM on April 17, 2014

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