How to Get Furniture Appraised for Tax Write-Offs

Antique furniture donations may require a professional appraisal for tax write-offs.

antique mahogany chair image by Margrit Hirsch from

The Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct the value of furniture you donate to qualified charities. For antique furniture values less than $5,000, you won’t need an appraisal to write off your donation. However, if the value is more than $5,000, as is often the case with antique or collectible items, you must have the furniture appraised before you make the contribution. The appraiser must be qualified by IRS standards and have experience performing furniture valuations.

Furniture Appraisal for the IRS

In most cases to meet IRS standards, qualified appraisers must be recognized as having special competency in furniture valuations from a professional appraisal organization. Visit the website of a national appraisers association, such as the Appraisers Association of America or the International Society of Appraisers to do an online antique appraisal expert search in your area that meets this IRS requirement. The appraiser must not be a party to your donation or have a vested interest in the value of your furniture, nor can the appraiser’s fees be based on the value of your furniture.

When you find a promising appraiser, contact the appraiser to schedule the valuation. The appraisal may not be more than 60 days old when you donate the furniture, so you'll want to have the appraisal done shortly before the donation. If you acquire an appraisal and wait longer than 60 days to make the donation, you’ll need a new appraisal.

In most cases, the appraiser will come to the address where the furniture is located to perform the valuation. Make sure you understand exactly what you're paying for, including whether you'll be charged for the appraiser's transportation costs, the official appraisal document or any other charges.

Obtain an Appraiser’s Declaration. The IRS doesn’t require you to send the actual appraisal with your tax return, but the appraiser must sign a declaration which states he is qualified to make the valuation and is not a party to your donation. Download IRS Form 8283 from the IRS website and take it to your appraiser. Your appraiser will sign the “Declaration of Appraiser” section on page 2, Part III of the form. You’ll provide the original declaration to the IRS, but keep a copy of the signed declaration and appraisal report with your records.

Exceptions for Low-Valued Furniture

If you don't need an appraisal to write off your furniture because it's valued at less than $5,000, download a valuation guide from an organization like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. These guides list value ranges accepted by the IRS for furniture donations.

2018 Tax Law Changes

The $5,000 threshold for when donations require appraisal isn't changing for 2018. But the standard deduction is rising to $12,000 for single people and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Since you can only claim the charitable donation deduction if you itemize your deductions, this may mean that some people making donations may not have to go through the trouble of getting items appraised or documenting their donations, since they'll save more by taking the standard deduction.

2017 Tax Law and Charitable Donations

As of 2017, the standard deduction is $6,350 for single people and $12,700 for married couples filing jointly. This may affect your decision on whether to itemize and claim charitable donations.