Can I Take a Tax Deduction for a Quilt Donated to Charity?

by Michael Keenan
A donated quilt can save you a little on your taxes.

Donations to charity are a way for you to help your community, clear out your attic and even earn you a break on your income tax return. If you have a quilt to donate, you can deduct the donation only if you meet several requirements. If you qualify, the donation goes on Schedule A of your taxes.

Qualifying Organization

You can only claim a tax break for your donated quilt if you give it to a qualifying charity. Qualified organizations include such groups as nonprofit schools and hospitals, religious institutions and public charities, such as United Way or the American Red Cross. Donations to individuals might make you feel good and even help the individual, but they never qualify for a tax deduction. For example, if you give your quilt to a homeless person so he can stay warm, you've done a good deed, but it won't affect your taxes.

Condition of Quilt

A quilt counts as a household item, which means it must be in "good used" or better condition for you to claim any deduction at all. The only exception is if the quilt is worth more than $500 and you include a qualified appraisal on your tax return. For example, if that quilt had historical significance and had been in your family for generations, it might have additional value despite its poor condition. Otherwise, it's got to be in good shape.

Deduction Value

Generally, you're limited to deducting the fair market value of the quilt donated to charity. The IRS says fair market value is what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller when both have full knowledge about the item. However, if you made the quilt, you're limited to the smaller of the fair market value or the amount you paid for the materials to make the quilt. For example, if you spent $5 on materials and two hours of work later had a quilt that could sell for $20, you're limited to deducting the $5. In addition, you can't increase your deduction by the value of your time spent making the quilt.

Must Itemize

Even if you've jumped through all the right hoops to get your deduction qualified for tax purposes, you still have one more: You have to itemize your deductions. On your tax return, you have the option to take either the standard deduction ($6,100 for singles, $8,950 for heads of household or $12,200 for joint filers for the 2013 tax year) or the sum of your itemized deductions, which includes charitable donations. If the value of your donated quilt -- plus your other charitable donations and itemized deductions -- doesn't exceed the value of your standard deduction, you can't take a tax deduction for your donation.

About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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