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Letter to the editor: Year-end tax deductions and donated goods

Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 12:01 am

With the end of the year quickly approaching, now is the time to donate to receive a tax deduction.

You can receive a tax deduction not only for monetary donations, but also for donated goods. Donated goods can include gently used clothing, shoes, housewares, games, books and furniture. Depending on the charity, your donations may be sold with the proceeds supporting that organization’s local programming, or your items may be given directly to clients.

The best way to learn what an organization accepts and how it will be used is to first check out that entity’s website. Be sure to ask for a tax donation receipt when you make your donation.

Donations to a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. IRS publication 526 details the types of contributions you can deduct, how much you can deduct, what records to keep and how to report charitable contributions. According to this publication, “the fair market value of used clothing and other personal items is usually far less than the price you paid for them. There are no fixed formulas or methods for finding the value of items of clothing. You should claim as the value the price that buyers of used items actually pay in used clothing stores, such as consignment or thrift shops.”

A few local charities that can benefit from your donation of used goods:

Goodwill Industries of Northeast Indiana Inc., which helps people with disabilities and employment barriers find and keep jobs.

Charis House, which supports women and children experiencing a homeless crisis.

The Salvation Army, which assists people in the grip of addiction to find help, hope and a second chance at life.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which has multiple programs including medical appointment transportation and emergency clothing and household assistance.

Think as carefully about where you donate the things you can no longer use as you do about where you donate your money. And always give to local charities you know and trust.

Ruth Koontz, MBA, community relations and marketing specialist, Goodwill Industries of Northeast Indiana Inc.