How Do I Value Property I Donated To Charity?

If you donate furniture, clothes or other personal property to a church or charity, you can generally deduct the item's "fair market value" at the time of the donation. Generally, we refer to a "thrift shop" value to describe the amount that a used clothing or furniture item would be worth to a purchaser of second-hand property.

The amount you claim cannot exceed what you originally paid for the item, or, in the case of a gift or inheritance, its tax basis. If you claimed deductions for the property in connection with your investments or a business, your deduction is further limited to the cost less the deductions claimed.

Example: Joe donated a copy machine to his church. He originally paid $2,000 for the machine, and claimed $1,600 in depreciation deductions in his business. The copy machine company told him the machine is now worth $1,200. He can deduct the lower of $1,200 or ($2,000 - $1,600 = $400). His deduction is limited to $400.

If your total non-cash contributions for the year are above $500, you will need to complete and attach Form 8283 to your return. Also refer to the instructions to that form if you are donating capital gain property (stocks, land, etc.) or artwork.

If any individual donation will be valued at $250 or more, see the FAQ below for special receipts needed.

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