Boy taking donation box full with stuff to donate

The Joy of Giving is Its Own Reward But a Tax Break is a Nice Bonus

Here’s a great way to let your children experience the joy of giving to others who may not be as fortunate this Christmas. Help them go through their toys, picking out those that are still in great shape, but they’ve outgrown.

Then let the kids go with you to donate the toys to a shelter or other charitable organization in your community that will be grateful to accept them.

Boy taking donation box full with stuff to donate

While you’re at it, consider you have only a few more weeks to make other tax-qualified donations. Even though you will have until April 2018 to file for Tax Year 2017, midnight on Dec. 31, 2017, is the deadline to actually make qualified donations. (Be sure to get a receipt).

Your bonus for donating to tax-qualified charities could be a reduction in the tax you owe or a nice increase in your refund check.

Figuring out the allowable market-value of your items can be tricky. If you value them at less than the IRS will allow, you could be leaving money on the table. But if you err on the side of valuing too high, you could be setting yourself up for a tax audit and no one wants an IRS tax audit! The solution is to use a valuation guide that is not only reliable but certified.

The only certified valuation guide I know of is Money for Your Used Clothing Tax Year 2017— a guide with current market 2017 values for more than 1,200 specific household items, including a handy workbook to record your donations for the year.

What makes this certified is that the author’s CPA firm, which produces a new edition of this workbook every year, certifies its values by guaranteeing that if you are ever audited and the values you claimed based on this guide/workbook are disallowed, the author William Lewis CPA and his company will act on your behalf with the IRS and pay all fees and  penalties, if any, that result. That’s an amazing guarantee and shows the level of confidence you can have in this guide.

You still have a few weeks to increase your donation numbers for 2017. With Christmas near, I can’t think of a better time than now to clean out to make room for the new, and at the same time benefit others less fortunate.

TOYS. Make sure toys for donation are intact with all board game pieces accounted for and puzzles complete with all their pieces. Broken and or worn out toys should go into the trash. But those that are still in good working order need to be cleaned up. Stuffed animals are good candidates for donation as long as they are gently used and qualify as in good condition.

CLOTHES. Cold-weather items are in high demand this time of the year. However, to qualify for the tax-deductible status they need to be in good condition meaning wearable with no rips, holes or stains including sweaters, hats, scarves, snow boots in all sizes for men, women, and children, too.

PANTRY ITEMS. It’s not a good idea to hang on to canned goods and pantry items for years and years. It’s okay to donate items with passed best-by dates, but anything with a date that was 3 years ago or more should be tossed. Donations can be made to local food pantries and similar charities.

BLANKETS. It’s a good bet you know how many blankets you need in your home. Inventory to see how many you are storing beyond that number. Those in good condition will make for excellent donations.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. By now you probably have a good idea which of the musical instruments in your cupboards will never be used in your home again. Make room by donating them so that they can be put back into service by others.

CELLPHONES AND ELECTRONICS. Provided those older cellphones can hold a charge, they can be a lifeline for people who cannot afford to buy new. Homeless shelters and others are able to put them into the hands of folks whose only need is to be able to dial 911. A phone that holds a charge fills that bill.

BOOKS. Cull that enormous library you’re harboring by getting rid of the books you or your family members won’t read again. Most local public libraries are happy to take book donations. What they cannot shelve the library can sell to raise much-needed funds.

Money for Your Used Clothing Tax Year 2017 is available online for $20 (Reg. $25) plus s/h or by calling toll free 1-800 550 3502 M-F, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm MT. Upon receipt of your booklet (we ship same day), you must register your booklet at to receive the Audit Protection Guarantee.

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