In many of the weeks of the Organized Life Series, you have probably been making a pile of items you are getting rid of. You have 3 main options for getting rid of your non-trash items.
- Sell online
- Have a garage sale
- Donate them!
Selling things online as an individual can be a hassle at best and a complete nightmare at worst. Sites such as Ebay have the rights completely skewed toward the buyer. If they buyer lies, you can lose money and your item. Scam artists abound. You have to be very diligent. You can sell locally on something like Craigslist, but it can be dangerous, a hassle, and there are scams on there as well. Garage sales are a complete pain in the rear. You have to have everything organized, laid out, properly priced and you need to advertise. Once you’re done and you’ve gotten way less than the cheap price you put on items, you are completely worn out and still have a pile of stuff to take to charity. I suggest that you just donate your items.
How to Donate your Items
The advantage to donating items is that you can write them off your taxes. In order to do this, you need to document things well. Though close, this is still less of a hassle than having a garage sale.
- Go through all of your items, making a list and photographing each item. (You can photograph them in a group.) Consider what the item is and what condition it is in. It must be “good” or “excellent” to get a tax write-off. And don’t take things in bad shape to a charity anyway. Nobody will want them
- Be kind – sort your items by type neatly and make sure they are clean. This makes it easier for the volunteers at the charity.
- Go to ItsDeductible.com. The site is owned and run by Intuit – the same company that owns TurboTax. You will be able to import the information directly into TurboTax later, which is quite handy. Use the same login that you do for TurboTax if you have one. Once in the website, go down your list and enter each item. If the item amount is way off you can enter it manually. For example, your particular mobile phone may not be listed, but the standard mobile phone is $20. You go to Ebay and see that your phone is selling repeatedly for $100. Take some good screen shots and record the item as selling for $100.
- Drop off your items at your favorite charity – like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Make sure you get a signed receipt. It will probably be blank. Keep it with your documentation.
Note: There is a practical donation limit of $4999 unless you plan ahead. If you donate more than $500 in non-cash donations, you need to complete form 8283 with your return, Turbotax will do this for you. If you donate one item or “a group of similar items” worth $5000 or more, you need a signed appraisal. This applies whether the items are donated to the same charity or different charities, on the same day or different days. The IRS includes “used clothing” in their list of examples for “groups of similar items.” So you probably won’t be able to claim more than $5000 for all your Goodwill donations combined unless you obtain a written signed appraisal.