A lot of people go all out on purging and organizing their stuff in January, but I think September is another great time to start evaluating what you need and don’t need. By tackling it this month, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up in the middle of the holidays right before your guests arrive! Think of it as “Fall Cleaning”.
Something I’m sure most everyone is familiar with is donating the used items you no longer want to reselling organization like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, which is great! And did you know that you can claim your donated items as a tax deduction?? Yup! Now, it’s extra great!! I mean getting something back is hardly ever the reason we donate anything, but it can be a nice little perk.
Here’s how I keep track of all my donated items to prepare and stay organized for the upcoming tax season.
First things first. You’ve cleaned out closets and dressers and you’ve got your big pile o’ stuff. It might be tempting to just toss it in a bag and haul it away, but to make sure you get the full tax deduction you’re allowed, we’ll need to do a tiny bit more prep.
To have visual proof of my donation, I take everything and lay it out on my table to snap a picture. If you’ve got lots of stuff, like I did in this most recent haul, you can group things into similar categories such as clothing, housewares, media, etc. Your photos obviously don’t need to be styled or perfectly lit; a simple cell phone picture will do just fine!
Next, I make a quick list of every item I’m donating and put it into a little “Donation Record” template I whipped up in Word. I include the date of donation, the location, and a list of donated items, the original purchase price and the estimated value at time of donation. It might sound like a lot of data, but it takes about five minutes, and this is the most crucial step to ensuring you get the maximum allotted deduction!
I do tend to group same items (like books, shirts, etc) and give the total original price and the total estimate. No need to list the individual names and prices for each CD or blouse.
Lastly, go and donate your goods! If you’re giving to a charitable organization, you should be able to request a donation receipt that says something like “Keep this receipt for tax filing purposes”. You might even be able to get one emailed to you! But make sure you grab it before you leave or it will be difficult to prove your donation. Most receipts I’ve gotten have spaces for you to fill in what you’ve donated, but now that you’ve typed up your little list before hand, all you have to do is put everything together.
I usually include the photos on the same pages as my donation list, staple the actual receipt to it, and store it in my Home Binder where it waits until tax season. One obvious, but still helpful, tip would be to always keep your tax related papers in the same place! You should just be able to grab these and go. Scrambling around tax time is a big no-no. (Yes, I’m the daughter of someone who works in accounting and have been hearing about the horrors of tax season every year since I was about 12.)
And, that’s it! This process adds just a few minutes to your donation day, but could save you some big money come tax time! Who doesn’t love that??