How to calculate clothing donations for taxes

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Clothing donations have a positive impact on the lives of people in need, but they also can help save money when the time comes to file your taxes. It’s relatively easy to learn how to calculate the value of your donated clothing to accurately file these returns, whether you are about to donate or have donated all year long.

Calculate the Value of Clothing Donations

Make a list of items donated at the time you give you them to charity. Include the brand, condition and year of purchase on your list. You should always ask for a receipt from the charitable organization to compare with your own list.

Categorize the clothing donated by type. This means making a pile of shirts, another of pants and another for dresses. Continue in this style until every item is accounted for. If you are valuing items on receipts or lists you can make your categories on paper.

Before you price your categories, determine if there are certain items with exceptional value. If there are certain designer or vintage that you know sell for a price that is not generic, put these items in a separate pile.

Begin pricing. You should establish a range in price for each type of clothing item. According to the Salvation Army, shirts may be between $3 and $15, while pants may be between $4 and $15. You should move lower or higher between these ranges depending on condition, material and brand of clothing. For special items, you may want to research the resale value online.

Record your prices next to the corresponding clothing article on your itemized lists or receipts. It is a good idea to check your pricing by comparing it to online or in-store guides, which may be provided by your charitable organization. You can value your items after or during each donation if you make frequent contributions, or once a year before tax season.

To categorize your receipts and inventory lists for items you already donated, try using different colors of highlighters.

Donate, document and don’t forget the little stuff.

How to calculate clothing donations for taxes

Tax deductible donations are contributions of money or goods to a tax-exempt organization such as a charity. Tax deductible donations can reduce taxable income. To claim tax deductible donations on your taxes, you must itemize on your tax return by filing Schedule A of IRS Form 1040 or 1040-SR .

For the 2020 tax year, there’s a twist: you can deduct up to $300 of cash donations without having to itemize. This is called an “above the line” deduction. In 2021, the deduction rises to $300 per person rather than per tax return, meaning a married couple filing jointly could deduct up to $600 of donations without having to itemize.

How much can I deduct?

In general, you can deduct up to 60% of your adjusted gross income via charitable donations (100% if the gifts are in cash), but you may be limited to 20%, 30% or 50% depending on the type of contribution and the organization (contributions to certain private foundations, veterans organizations, fraternal societies, and cemetery organizations come with a lower limit, for instance). IRS Publication 526 has the details.

The limit applies to all donations you make throughout the year, no matter how many organizations you donate to.

Contributions that exceed the limit can often be deducted on your tax returns over the next five years — or until they’re gone — through a process called a carryover.

For the 2020 tax year, you can deduct up to $300 of cash donations on a tax return without having to itemize. This is called an “above the line” deduction. In 2021, the deduction rises to $300 per person rather than per tax return, meaning a married couple filing jointly could deduct up to $600 of donations without having to itemize.

The CARES Act eliminated the 60% limit for cash donations to public charities.

How to claim tax deductible donations on your tax return

In general, itemize at tax time. When you file your tax return every year, you’ll need to itemize your deductions in order to claim tax deductible donations to charity. That means filling out Schedule A along with the rest of your tax return. On your 2020 tax return, you can deduct up to $300 of cash donations without having to itemize.

Weigh the costs and benefits ahead of time. Itemizing can take more time than if you just take the standard deduction , and it may require more expensive tax software or create a higher bill from your tax preparer. Plus, if your standard deduction is more than the sum of your itemized deductions, it might be worth it to abandon itemizing and take the standard deduction instead. If you abandon itemizing, however, you abandon taking the deduction for what you donated.

Here are the standard deduction amounts by filing status. Again, if your standard deduction is more than the sum of your itemized deductions, it might be worth it to skip itemizing (and thus skip claiming those tax deductible donations) and take the standard deduction instead.

How to calculate clothing donations for taxes

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  • Dec. 27, 2018 /
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  • Dec. 27, 2018 /
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Giving away belongings you no longer want or need can bring happiness to others who could use them. An added bonus: You get a tax break for your charitable gifts if you donate to a qualifying organization and itemize your deductions.

However, it’s your job to keep track of the items you give to charity so you can report their value to the IRS. The IRS says donated clothing and other household goods must be “in good used condition or better.” If you claim a deduction of $500 or more for a used item that’s not in good condition, the IRS says you’d better get an appraisal.

Several computer software programs are available to help you figure the tax value of your donated stuff. The list of some common items, below, gives you an idea of what your donated clothing and household goods are worth, as suggested in the Salvation Army’s valuation guide.

Men’s clothing worksheet

Women’s clothing worksheet

Children’s clothing worksheet

Household goods worksheet

You don’t have to send in a list of donated items with your tax return. Just keep the information with your personal tax records and put the total contribution amount on your Schedule A, Itemized Deductions (or your computer software will do it for you).

Be sure to get a receipt from the charity when you donate your goods — again, for your personal records. The nonprofit won’t put a dollar value on the receipt, but the paperwork will help you prove that you did, indeed, donate the property if the IRS asks.

If you make a single non-cash gift worth between $250 and $500 (if, for example, you donate a vehicle), you’re required to have a receipt or a written acknowledgment of your gift from the qualified charitable organization.

If you’re thinking of getting a new vehicle and donating your old one to get the deduction, check out auto loan rates at Bankrate.com.

If the total of all your contributed property comes to more than $500, you have to file IRS Form 8283 with your tax return.

Giving back to your community is one of the more fulfilling things you can do in your life. If that wasn’t enough, there are other reasons to donate your old items as well. If done correctly, your donations can provide deductions on your next year’s taxes, something we can all enjoy. Given how common donating clothes is and how much is usually donated at one time, GreenDrop has made this guide to help you itemize your donations correctly to get the right refund. This guide on how to itemize clothing donations for taxes will help you be prepared for tax season with everything in hand.

Track All Donations

One of the more important things to do as you donate throughout the year is to continually keep track of what you donated and how much it was worth. You can easily figure out how much something is worth for taxes with online calculators from the IRS. Without proper records of your donations, it will be much more difficult to correctly itemize and claim them. Whether you are donating a small or large amount of clothing, always ask to get a receipt for the donation after it is done so you can have it for your records.

Donate To the Correct Places

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as giving your old clothes to someone you know who’s in need. You can only get a tax deduction by donating to a tax-exempt organization like GreenDrop charity partners (American Red Cross, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Federation of the Blind and Society of St Vincent de Paul – Philadelphia). Specifically, you’ll need to donate to organizations that are registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. You can easily get this information by looking on the IRS’ website or by calling the organization directly.

Keep a Detailed Record

Getting the receipt should be all you need, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra thorough. You’ll need to keep a detailed, itemized list of everything you donated. Make sure to include the name of the organization to who you donated, as well as the address and phone number. Write down a detailed description of each of the items donated, for example, “Target women’s yoga pants, excellent condition.” If you can remember, also write down when you purchased the item, how much you originally paid for it, and what you’ve found to be the price of the item now.

Find the Correct Valuation

Speaking of finding the price of the item as it is now, that is an essential step that you’ll need to undertake if you want to report your donations correctly. If you can find a valuation guide for the item you are considering donating online, that is perfect. If not, you’ll need to do some of your own research. The items don’t have to be exactly the same, but search for similar items in places like eBay, or in thrift stores or consignment stores. Make sure you keep a record of where you found these prices as well as the date of when you found the valuation.

Possible Appraisals

Getting your items appraised is not something that you will necessarily need to do for every item. In fact, you only really need to have an item appraised if the item is in less than good condition and you are claiming it for more than $500. If you are claiming it for over $500, and the item is in better than good condition, you shouldn’t need to get an appraisal. The other reason you may want to call an appraiser is if you are planning to be very generous and donate over $5,000 of used clothes in the span of one year.

Add It All Up

Once you have determined the fair market value of everything you are donating, remember that this will definitely be lower than what you paid for everything as a whole; all you need to do is add up their totals so you know exactly how much you are claiming. If you’re still unsure if you’ve correctly estimated the fair market value of your clothes, don’t be afraid to reach out for additional help. Your local tax advisor should be able to help you decide on a fair market price for all your donated items.

Fill Out the Correct Forms

By the time you have everything figured out, you’re probably ready to sign the forms and get your refund. The one you want to look out for is Form 1040, specifically Schedule A. This where you can list any itemized deductions that you have. You can list the total amount for your donated items, adjusted to be the fair market value, on line 17, “Gifts to Charity.”

If you have an item or collection of items that you are donating that is worth over $500, you will need to fill out another form as well. Form 8283 is the form that you’ll be looking for. You’ll need to write a more detailed description of the items you donated, as well as when and where you donated them. Remember that you will need an appraiser’s signature if you donated something worth over $500 that is in less than good condition. Similarly, if you are making a donation for the year that totals above $5,000, you will also need to have an appraiser’s signature.

Double Check Everything

There is a lot of information and numbers to keep track of throughout this entire process. Before you send anything in, make sure that you do a thorough search through all your documents and receipts. As with anything related to taxes, the more recording you can do along the way will help you in the long run. This is especially important, as the IRS is very thorough when it comes to charitable donations. The more accurate you are with your reporting, the less the likelihood of an audit.

We hope that this guide on how to itemize clothing donations for taxes has helped you understand the process a bit better so you can feel even better about donating your old garments. GreenDrop is here to help, whether you bring your donations to one of our many clothing donation centers or through home donation pickups.

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Clothing donations have a positive impact on the lives of people in need, but they also can help save money when the time comes to file your taxes. It’s relatively easy to learn how to calculate the value of your donated clothing to accurately file these returns, whether you are about to donate or have donated all year long.

Calculate the Value of Clothing Donations

Make a list of items donated at the time you give you them to charity. Include the brand, condition and year of purchase on your list. You should always ask for a receipt from the charitable organization to compare with your own list.

Categorize the clothing donated by type. This means making a pile of shirts, another of pants and another for dresses. Continue in this style until every item is accounted for. If you are valuing items on receipts or lists you can make your categories on paper.

Before you price your categories, determine if there are certain items with exceptional value. If there are certain designer or vintage that you know sell for a price that is not generic, put these items in a separate pile.

Begin pricing. You should establish a range in price for each type of clothing item. According to the Salvation Army, shirts may be between $3 and $15, while pants may be between $4 and $15. You should move lower or higher between these ranges depending on condition, material and brand of clothing. For special items, you may want to research the resale value online.

Record your prices next to the corresponding clothing article on your itemized lists or receipts. It is a good idea to check your pricing by comparing it to online or in-store guides, which may be provided by your charitable organization. You can value your items after or during each donation if you make frequent contributions, or once a year before tax season.

To categorize your receipts and inventory lists for items you already donated, try using different colors of highlighters.

I have many clothing items that I plan on donating to a local charitable/religious organization. I want to include the value of these items as a charitable deduction on my income tax, but I don’t know how to calculate the value of these items. Do I use a percentage of the original Suggested Retail Price? Or a percentage of the price I paid for them?

3 Answers 3

The value of your used clothes is the fair market value of the items. If you are donating to the salvation army or GoodWill you can walk through the store to an idea of what they are going to sell your items for or you could use something like this guide provided by the salvation army. For more information on donating items you can look at this publication from the IRS.

Keep in mind, the IRS shows on choice for “how valued” as “consignment shop value.” The Goodwill guide is just that, a guide, low for some items (a man’s $600 suit a few years old, hardly worn, is not worth just $72) and high for others (a black and white TV has no value. I could not find a charity that would even take a tube television. I left it on the sidewalk with a note that said “works” and it was gone, picked up by a passing car.)

In general, consignment shops will charge about 1/3 retail. For household items, check eBay listings to justify valuation.

How to calculate clothing donations for taxes

I usually file my taxes with H&R Block’s TaxCut software (now called H&R Block At Home).

H&R block provides a tool called DeductionPro that lets you enter quantities of various items donated (Men’s T-Shirt, pair of Women’s Shoes, etc), and it has pre-assigned values. So, it does all the math for you.

DeductionPro has a “printable” worksheet option, where it prints a list of all items and you can fill in the blanks. Before dropping off a donation, I usually print one of these worksheets, and mark down all of the items I will be donating. Afterward, I staple the worksheet to the receipt from Goodwill. When I do my taxes in April, I enter all of printed worksheets into DeductionPro.

The latest version of DeductionPro is web based, so I think you can use it to print worksheets even if you aren’t an H&R Block customer. https://www.deductionpro.com/

I prefer to use a third-party tool vs coming up with my own valuation, because if the IRS ever questions me, I can blame H&R Block.

If you are a TurboTax user, they have a similar tool.

Claim a tax deduction

Your monetary donations and donations of clothing and household goods that are in “good” condition or better are entitled to a tax deduction, according to Federal law. The Internal Revenue Service requires that all charitable donations be itemized and valued.

Use the list of average prices below as a guide for determining the value of your donation. Values are approximate and are based on items in good condition.

It’s a good idea to check with your accountant or read up on the rules before you file you return. Here are some handy opens in a new window IRS tips for deducting charitable donations.

When you bring items to one of our donation locations, you may fill out a paper donation form. The form is required if you are donating computers and other technology equipment so that we can comply with state reporting requirements. Thanks for taking the time to fill it out!

Estimated donation values

Women’s Clothing
Accessories $2–8
Blouses $2–8
Dresses $3–16
Handbags $2–4
Intimate apparel $2–10
Outerwear $7–35
Shoes $2–10
Skirts $2–8
Slacks $2–8
Suits $5–15
Men’s Clothing
Suits $15–40
Jackets $6–20
Shirts $2–6
Outerwear $7–16
Sweaters $2–10
Accessories $7–35
Shoes $2–10
Children’s Clothing
Dresses $1–3
Pants $1–5
Shirts $1–5
Outerwear $3–8
Sweaters $1–5
Shoes $1–6
Furniture
Kitchen sets $40–100
End Tables $2–20
Coffee tables $10–25
Dressers w/ mirrors $25–60
Wardrobes $15–60
China cabinets $40–150
Trunks $15–30
Sofas $50–125
Desks $20–75
Recliners $20–50
Housewares
Cookware $2–10
Tabletops $1–10
Vacuums $15–25
Pictures $2–10
Lamps $5–30
Luggage $5–10
Computers
Systems $100–500
Printers $25–100
Monitors $10–50
Electronics
Televisions $20–170
Stereo Systems $25–100
Radios $5–20
Sporting Goods
Golf clubs $2–10
Bicycles $12–60
Fishing rods $3–10
Skates $3–5
Tennis rackets $2–10

Tax information

If you itemize deductions on your federal tax return, you may be entitled to claim a charitable deduction for your Goodwill donations. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a taxpayer can deduct the fair market value of clothing, household goods, used furniture, shoes, books and so forth. Fair market value is the price a willing buyer would pay for them. Value usually depends on the condition of the item. By law, a charity cannot tell you what your donated items are worth. This is something you must do yourself. To assess “fair market value” for your donations:

  • Consult a local tax advisor who should be familiar with market values in your region
  • Review the following tax guides available from the IRS

IRS Guidelines

Determining the Value of Donated Property — defines “fair market value” and helps donors and appraisers determine the value of property given to qualified organizations. It also explains what kind of information you must have to support the charitable contribution deduction you claim on your return. (Publication 561)

To help you determine your donations fair market value Goodwill is happy to provide a opens in a new window Donation Value Guide opens PDF file that offers average prices in our stores for items in good condition.

Charitable Contributions — explains which organizations are qualified to receive deductible charitable contributions, the types of contributions you can deduct, how much you can deduct, what records to keep, and how to report charitable contributions (Publication 526)

Noncash Charitable Contributions — applies to deduction claims totaling more than $500 for all contributed items. If a donor is claiming over $5,000 in contribution value, there is a section labeled “Donee Acknowledgement” in Section B, Part IV of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8283 that must be completed. The form and instructions are available on the IRS site and can be accessed through this link, IRS Tax Forms. A member of the management staff must verify that the donation receipts match the completed form and fill in the date of donation/s in this section. In addition, Goodwill’s name (Goodwill Retail Services, Inc.), store address and identification number (39-2040239) must be completed. Management staff must also provide their signature, title, and the signature date. Finally, a copy of completed Form/s 8283 should be forwarded to the Merchandise Analyst.

IRS Links for Forms and Instructions — opens in a new window IRS Tax Form 8283 is used to report information about noncash charitable contributions. opens in a new window Form 8282 is used to report information to the IRS and donors about dispositions of certain charitable deduction property made within 3 years after the donor contributed the property.

Goodwill will be happy to provide a receipt as substantiation for your contributions in good used condition, only on the date of the donation.

Goodwill Central Coast information for tax return with address of your donation center.

How to calculate clothing donations for taxes

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If you gave money related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, or just made regular monthly contributions to your favorite local charity, you may be eligible for a special deduction this tax season.

The CARES Act, passed last spring in response to the pandemic, includes a special $300 tax deduction for cash donations to qualifying organizations made before Dec. 31, 2020. Both individual and joint filers can deduct a maximum of $300 in donations.

The best part? The credit is designed specifically for the 87% of filers who take the standard deduction, so you can benefit even if you don’t itemize. In prior tax years, only those who itemized could deduct charitable contributions.

Here’s what you need to know about claiming this deduction before you file:

What is the Tax Deduction?

This special deduction is an “above-the-line” deduction, which means claiming it lowers both your adjusted gross income and your taxable income.

That doesn’t mean you’ll get an additional $300 back on your return. The $300 deduction can help reduce the amount of income that you owe taxes on, but will vary based on your income and other factors in your return. “It’s not going to make a humongous difference in your tax bill,” says Michele Cagan, CPA and author of “Debt 101.” “But why give the IRS even $10 more than you need to?”

As an example, a single filer with a $54,000 income who claims a full $300 in cash donations can increase their refund (or reduce their tax bill) by about $66 total.

If you itemize your tax deductions, you can still deduct charitable donations on your 2020 returns as well. The IRS offers additional guidance on charitable contribution deduction changes for itemizers under the CARES Act.

But this deduction under the CARES Act is specifically for people who choose to take the standard deduction when filing. That accounts for nearly nine in 10 people, according to the IRS.

You may deduct up to the following amounts in cash donations, depending on how you file:

  • $300: single or head of household
  • $300: married filing jointly
  • $150: married filing separately

And remember, $300 is a maximum: If you donated $200, $100, $50, or any other amount to charity in 2020, you can claim that amount as a deduction — up to $300.

Are Your Donations Eligible?

Cash donations of up to $300 made to an eligible organization in tax year 2020 qualify for the special deduction.

This includes donations you make with cash or by check, debit card, or credit card. Donations of property, securities, or household items do not qualify. In other words, you may claim money you donated to your local food bank, but not the clothes you gave to Goodwill.

Pro Tip

Keep documentation of any cash donations you make, whether in the form of a receipt, thank you letter, or even email acknowledgement from the organization.

You should also make sure the organization you donated to is eligible before claiming the deduction. “It has to be a qualified charitable organization,” Cagan says. “It can’t be a GoFundMe page; it has to be a registered charity with the IRS.”

The IRS has a Tax Exempt Organization Search tool you can use to check the status of any organization you donated to in 2020.

Keep Proof of Your Donation

Make sure you have documentation of each cash donation you claim. For donations under $250, your own records, such as a bank or credit card statement, should suffice. But you’ll need a receipt from the charity for donations of $250 or more, Cagan says.

“Since most people, especially this year, are probably making donations online, they’re probably going to get a response email, so that would count,” she says. “Anything you get from them that acknowledges you made a donation counts as proof.”

The IRS has a full rundown of qualifying records for your cash donations.

Looking Ahead: Tax Year 2021

Initially, this deduction was designed as a one-year tax break. For tax year 2020, the deduction is $300 regardless of how you file under the standard deduction (whether individual or jointly).

But the latest stimulus bill in December extended and expanded the deduction. Any cash donations you make this year may also be eligible when you file next spring. Plus, for tax year 2021, individuals taking the standard deduction can again deduct up to $300 in charitable cash donations, and joint filers may deduct up to $600 in cash donations.