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I have done my own taxes for two years now and it's been a painless process. I did, however, make the mistake last year of claiming too many allowances and ended up owing a couple hundred bucks from those larger paychecks. I also moved, and although I was able to sell everything I was looking to get rid of I was wondering about the process of donating those items to Goodwill or Salvation Army and getting a receipt to apply to my taxes instead.

Is it worth it to keep those receipts hanging around until next tax season? If you don't have a balance, are they rewarded to you as a credit? I really have no knowledge on this subject and could use some insight! Thanks!

Emily Roberts is an ice-cream aficionado and advertising account manager for the verticals of financial tech and consumer finance at The Penny Hoarder. She has never had a credit card or a TV. 

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I ask for receipts as well. Even with the new tax law, those charitable donations may become a factor, particularly if your itemized deduction amounts help you go over the new thresholds (for example, I am single and the threshold is $12,000; with my itemizations, I go over that amount easily). Something to think about.

Charitable donations could mean several things, what comes to mind is keeping a record of a cash flow when donating, some are impossible to keep, such as the plastic container at the register at restaurants and businesses that support a cause... like sending a child to camp. You just donate anonymously. When it comes to solicited funds, such as supporting your local fire dept, they give a receipt and you have documentation. It breaks down to your threshold for deductions, whether you have enough to itemize or just accept the standard. Personally, I choose to document  & be prepared, it is more work but I am the one that is accountable.

Yes, I always ask for receipts. 

The IRS publishes a guideline for material goods donations and Goodwill has assisted in estimating with a pdf Value Guide.

There are a few Value Guides available online.  I also take photos with my phone of the items we donate, storing them in a separate online file.

Even if you cannot itemize or you feel your deductions are not adequate, in the case of an audit by the IRS I feel a need (personally) to offer a bit of proof that we are historically diligent in record keeping.

I came back to add to my post that we are small business owners and diligence comes with some heightened record keeping. We are into retirement, but I doubt I will ever feel anything akin to "simplicity" about record keeping. 


Last edited by mintjulep

Yes, I too take photos of my physical donations and store in a Gmail yearly tax folder and on Drive. As for the poster above regarding those cash register donations, I make a note of those on the receipt if they're not already listed, then send myself an email with that amount, date, where donated. I store those emails in my yearly tax folder in Gmail (and Drive).

For Girl Scouts cookies, I note the purchase date, where purchased, amount and when I get home and have opened those puppies, I send myself an email and again store those in the yearly tax folder in Gmail (and Drive). Now, Petsmart is good about this, not only is your donation listed on your purchase receipt, but they also send you a list of your donations quarterly and at year-end. Every little bit may help get over the thresholds.

sthom posted:


For Girl Scouts cookies, I note the purchase date, where purchased, amount and when I get home and have opened those puppies, I send myself an email and again store those in the yearly tax folder in Gmail (and Drive). 

sthom! do we have a date for the final consumption of those puppies recorded!!  You are a mentor for me! I never thought about emailing myself cash amounts and I almost always forget about them quickly!  Thanks for sharing!

For donations where you get a product like Girl Scout cookies, you must subtract the amount you would normally pay for the same type cookies in the grocery store and can only deduct the amount of the donation over that amount. 

If you pay $500 for a pair of tickets that normally cost $100, you can only deduct $400 for tax purposes unless you donate the tickets to another legal charity.

No. I never have nor will I ever  ask for one because the place I donate to helps the local church's out in my county. the people there all are volunteers.

Also, I will donate school supplies for the kids needing help to go back to school. 

Yes kids in my county are doing online courses but soon they will have to go to classes.

Hmmm,  you are right you really don't get that many cookies with the GS and of course a better deal with the in-store products. I would rather just make a donation than to deal with  subtraction and documentation of the subtraction and the purchase of like cookies. Too much hassle and store receipts fade. How many GS cookies would you have to buy to make this worth while for taxes?

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