Every year all around America almost every tax preparer asks the question, “Do you have charitable deductions like donations?” The answer is often, “yes 500.00 at Goodwill, Salvation Army and others.” That answer although widely excepted is not defensible at audit so why not use the pre-holiday season to send your clients a few tips on how to easily and properly document those gifts in order to prove your value as a planner that cares about them. It`s a great excuse to dove tail that call into a request for an appointment between Thanksgiving and the end of year to talk about other more valuable tax saving opportunity that expire atmidnight when the new year’s eve ball drops!
Cash is Cash that’s easy, never use cash! Write a check or use your credit card.
Used Clothing is the biggest offender so below is a link to IRS publication 561;
The long and the short of it is that the value of the items you bag and drop off are the prices they will put on the items when sold next week. Not a percentage of what you paid!
They usually have a guide at any location as to their pricing on items, and you can pick that up and put it with your tax records along with the receipt that says, “One Bag of Clothes.”
BUT WAIT, I’m dropping off the clothes so it’s too late to price these drop offs..this isn’t easy!?!? ANSWER, before you take your items spread them out on a table, floor, bed and TAKE A PHOTO, with your phone!
It take 30 seconds to spread those clothes you just took out of the closet on the bed and snap a photo seconds before you shove them all in the bag to go. After you’ve dropped them off and picked up the sheet you print the photo (emailed from you to you at work and hit print) then at tax time it’s a few seconds. There are 1,2,3,4,5,6 sweaters. 1,2,3,4,5 slacks and 1,2 belts. Sweaters are 24$ and Slacks are 12$ belts are 7$ on this sheet from Goodwill, that’s 218.00 deducted. It takes moments to do and that photo and the list in with your tax documents is 100% defendable!
What the short version of all this? The IRS is cracking down on the non-descript “Automatic 500.00” people have taken for years without thought. You should take a quick photo of donated items before you drop them off and then pick up the stores pricing list and put it with the photo.
This might be the last year you can take a deduction on schedule A as the House passed a bill that would likely have people not itemizing most of the time. Get that stuff in the basement, garage, storage shed out and get it done!