If your television is no longer state-of-the-art, you might be thinking about replacing it and donating the old one to charity. You could potentially receive a break on your taxes if you do this, but the process isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. The Internal Revenue Service indicates that if your TV is too dated or isn’t in good repair, it has no market value. If it has no market value, you can’t take a tax deduction for donating it.
Find your original purchase documents for the television. You might still have the receipt on hand. If not, try to find a credit card or bank statement showing the charge or debit. Identify the year you purchased the TV.
Make an honest assessment of its condition. If a knob is missing, and depending on how old the television is, it might not have any value. You can still drop it off at Goodwill so someone less fortunate can use it, but you probably won’t get a tax deduction for it.
Go online to a site such as eBay or Craigslist and search for other televisions of similar age, condition, make and model. According to the IRS, the deduction value of your television is its resale value, what someone would be willing to pay for it if you were to sell it through such a site. You can also check your local classified listings or yard sales for the asking price of comparable televisions for sale.
Photograph your television before you donate it to show its condition. Make a file to include the photo, your proof of payment when you purchased the TV, and your sources for finding values for similar sets. If you find a comparable television on eBay that sold for $100, print out the page and save it.
Donate the television. You can only claim a deduction for items given to a qualified charity, such as a religious or non-profit organization. A qualified charity will ask you to set the value on the TV, which you’ve already established; the charity is not allowed to do it for you. The charity will then give you an IRS Form 8899, acknowledging the donation. Ask for an actual receipt as well. The IRS requires that you have one for any donation valued at $250 or more.
File IRS Form 8283 with your tax return, if the value of your television was $500 or more. Otherwise, you can simply deduct the value on Schedule A of your return. The charity will file a copy of the Form 8899 with the IRS, substantiating your donation. You don’t have to attach the documentation you gathered to establish its value, but keep it on hand. If the IRS ever questions your deduction, you’ll have proof of how you arrived at the value.
If you accept anything in exchange for your donated television, you can only deduct the difference between the television’s fair market worth and the value of what you received.
If you donate a brand new television, you can support its value with your sales receipt, plus a receipt from the charity.
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images