How You Can Help Charities through Spring Cleaning

With the unusually warm winter we’re experiencing, it might not be hard to believe spring is almost here.  Many of us will start the annual “spring cleaning” of our homes and garages very soon.  Did you know that your spring cleaning can benefit local charities … and you?

Many charities accept donations of household goods.  Some of those charities resell the items to generate funds to support their programs, while others distribute the goods to other parts of the country and world as part of their mission.  So when you donate used household goods to charities, you’re helping the charities serve the public.

As a benefit to you, the contribution is often tax deductible (though there are some limitations).  In order to determine what you may deduct for your contribution you must determine its “fair market value” (FMV) on the date of contribution.  Keep in mind that the FMV of donated household goods are usually a much lower price at the time of contribution than when new, and, as of August 17, 2006, donors cannot take tax deductions for contributions of donated goods, unless the goods are in “good used condition” or better.

Here are some other limitations to keep in mind.

  • If the FMV of furniture or linens is more than $500, the donor is required to obtain a qualified appraisal in order to take a tax deduction.
  • Donations and jewelry will (almost) always need an appraisal by a special jewelry appraiser in order to take a tax deduction.
  • To take a tax deduction of more than $5,000 for donations of paintings, antiques, and other art objects, a written appraisal from a qualified and reputable source is required.


For more information, contact the Internal Revenue Service or read IRS Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.  Always consult a qualified tax professional before taking a tax deduction.

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About Trisha Sefakis

I started at BBB|Cincinnati in 2004 as the Database Coordinator, I am now the Manager of Digital Media.