How to Value Donations of Used Items to Charity

by Whitney Coy ; Updated July 27, 2017
It can be tricky to assign values to donated goods.

Donating your used items to charity is a way to help those in need while helping yourself as well. Not only does donating items you no longer need clear your home of clutter, you also can make a buck or two. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lets you claim the fair market value of charitable donations as tax deductions. While a qualified appraiser must certify items valued at more than $5,000, you assign values to most items you give to charities. There are some simple guidelines to follow when valuing your items.

Step 1

Go to the charity's website. Many have charts that list the values of commonly donated items. Consider the current market value of the item, not the price you paid for it. Market values tend to change through time, so the item might not cost today what it did then.

Step 2

Look at the condition of the item. If the item does not look brand new, some of the value must be deducted.

Step 3

Check the prices of similar items at local secondhand shops or thrift stores. Value the items based on what you find.

Step 4

Assign a lower value if you are not sure. The IRS has penalties for giving too much value to a donated item.

Step 5

Ask for an itemized receipt. This will come in handy if you are audited.

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