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Writing off Charitable Contributions

As the year end approaches many people will donate used items to local charities. Although we applaud the efforts to help those less fortunate there are some things you can do to help yourself too.

Keep good records as this case will demonstrate.

  • After his mother’s death, the taxpayer deducted nearly $28,000 in charitable contributions for donations of his parents’ household goods, clothing, and electronic equipment to a qualified charity.
  • The taxpayer combined all of the donation acknowledgments on two blank “tax receipts” provided by the charity and prepared a spreadsheet identifying the items donated and valuing them using lists found on the Salvation Army website.
  • The Tax Court held that none of the charitable contribution deductions were allowed because the taxpayer failed to satisfy the substantiation requirements of IRC Sec. 170(f)(8) and (11).  He didn’t provide evidence to show their condition or obtain an appraisal to support their value