Tax Deduction for Donating Glasses to Charity

Donating an old pair of eyeglasses can bring joy and tax relief.

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Many people take for granted either their eyesight or their access to eyeglasses to correct their vision. However, not everyone is as lucky, so some charities collect donated glasses to spread the gift of sight to the less fortunate. If you're giving away your old glasses, you might qualify for a tax deduction.

Qualified Charities

Just because you're giving away an old pair of eyeglasses doesn't mean they're going to a qualified charity. Only eyeglasses donated to qualified charities, like religious organizations, nonprofit schools or hospitals, and public charities like the Boys and Girls Club or Goodwill Industries, count toward a tax deduction. If you give them to a nonqualified organization or a specific person, you don't get a deduction. If you have doubts, ask the organization if it qualifies or search IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check, an online database of qualified charities.

Donation Deduction Amount

You can deduct the fair market value of your glasses on your taxes -- what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller. The IRS doesn't set a specific value for donated glasses, so it's up to you to estimate the value, such as by looking at thrift stores to see what similar glasses would cost. For example, if you could sell the glasses for $50, you could claim a $50 deduction when you donate them.


The IRS almost always requires you to get a receipt for your donation before you file your tax return if you want to claim the deduction; the only exception is when the glasses are worth less than $250 and it's "impractical" to get a receipt, such as if you leave the glasses at a drop site. Otherwise, without a receipt showing the name of the charity, the date you donated the glasses and a description of the glasses, you're not allowed to take a deduction.

Reporting Donated Eyeglasses

When you file your taxes, you must itemize to write off your eyeglasses, which requires using Form 1040 and claiming the deduction on Schedule A. Since it's a non-cash donation, it goes on line 17 and then gets combined with your other itemized deductions. If the total value of your eyeglasses and your other non-cash donations exceeds $500, you must also complete Form 8283 to show the IRS what exactly you gave away. If you choose not to itemize because you'd rather claim your standard deduction, you can't deduct your eyeglasses.

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About the Author

Based in the Kansas City area, Mike specializes in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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