How to List Goodwill Donations for Tax Deductions

Stroll your local Goodwill resale shop for help valuing your donations.

clothes shop image by Radu Razvan from Fotolia.com

Goodwill Industries relies on in-kind donations of gently used furniture, clothing and household goods to stock resale centers around the nation. Your contributions fuel the charity’s philanthropic efforts. In return for your contributions, you can take a tax deduction when filing your taxes. There’s no specific format for creating a list of items for Goodwill – a legal pad with columns that contain the name of each item, a short description and the fair market value (FMV) usually does the job.

Tip

Keep a Goodwill donations list showing what you donated, how much it was worth and when. You can use this when you file your taxes.

A Goodwill Donation Value List

Established by Dr. Edgar J. Helms in 1941, Goodwill Industries does more than collect goods: the international charity creates jobs for people who might not otherwise find employment, thanks to the organization’s training and rehabilitation mission. There is no limit on the number or amount of goods and property you can donate, but some items sell better than others. Visit a community Goodwill resale store to see the types of items their shops accept before cleaning out your closets.

According to IRS in-kind donation guidelines, items on your donation list “need to be professionally assessed and certified.” In lieu of an authority on clothing and household goods, assess the Fair Market Value (FMV) of each item on your own. If there’s no Goodwill Industries resale store in your area, thrift stores and flea markets are good places for evaluating the selling prices of used goods. Thrift shop owners and staffers can help you price used merchandise, too.

Make sure you compare apples to apples when formulating your list of Goodwill donations. The condition of goods is important when assessing FMV, so add notes to items on your list, like “nearly new,” “buttons replaced” and “silk fabric,” Factor in desirability and scarcity, as well. A one-of-a-kind porcelain figure or a vintage dress, for example, can boost the FMV of either because rare or hard-to-find items tend to command higher prices on the resale market.

Goodwill Industries is legally prohibited from setting FMV prices, but the charity publishes a suggested Goodwill donation valuation guide based on average sales at their resale shops throughout the nation. This guide can be found on the Goodwill website as a PDF download. Not only can the guide suggest prices to help you compile your list, but it's also a good reference, allowing you to see what types of merchandise the organization seeks for resale.

Goodwill Industries partners with CharityDeductions.com. This online valuation service is the first web-based software for assessing the FMV of used goods, and it's easy to use. You input descriptions of items you intend to donate to Goodwill, and the service calculates the FMV and creates a list based on used goods sales throughout the country. Expect to pay a fee for the service, but if you’re concerned that your estimates may not be accurate, you may wish to try this list prep service.

Getting an Appraisal

If you donate an item or related group of items worth $5,000 or more, you must get it professionally appraised if you want to claim it on your income taxes. Fill out IRS Form 8283 and include the appraisal report with the form and your tax return.

2018 Tax Law

The standard deduction is increasing to $12,000 for individuals in 2018 and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. This may make it not worthwhile for some people to claim their itemized deductions, including charitable donations. If you're sure you're not going to itemize, you don't need to document your donations, though you may want to do so for your own records.

2017 Tax Law

The standard deduction for 2017 is $6,350 for single taxpayers and $12,700 for married couples filing jointly. That may have made more people itemize and claim donations than they will in the future.

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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.


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