If you lose your favorite shirt or jeans in a fire, you may at least get a tax deduction out of it. The IRS allows you to claim an itemized write-off for fire and other disaster losses. You can't write off any losses your insurance covered, and you can't claim any losses if you take the standard deduction.
How Much Did You Lose?
The IRS spells out the guidelines for claiming losses in Publication 547. To start, you compare how much you paid for the burned clothes with the loss in value from the fire. Record the smaller figure. On a brand-new designer suit, the loss may be equal to the purchase price. A 10-year-old T-shirt with holes in it has sentimental rather than monetary value, so your loss would be zero. The cost of replacing any of your clothes doesn't affect the deduction.
Filing a Claim
Take the amount you calculated for your loss and add it to any other losses from the fire. Then you subtract your insurance reimbursements from the total. The IRS says you follow that by subtracting first $100, then subtracting 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. Your write-off is whatever amount is left. Report the loss on IRS Form 4684 as well as Schedule A.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.