The Transylvania Times -

By Bill Harrah
Staff Writer 

Charitable Giving Is Tax Deductible

 

Last updated 2/18/2013 at 8:17am



Tax time has many of us thinking about deductions, and perhaps wishing we had taken all those clothes, furniture and other cast-offs to the resale shop before year-end.

Sigh! Go ahead. Take them now. Your stuff is worth something, and Transylvania is a fine place to put it back in circulation. But you’ll have to wait until next year for the deduction unless your receipt is dated 2012.

Anything you give to charity (other than your time) can reduce your taxes, even if you don’t itemize. Donations of food and used clothing are deductible. Furniture is, too. Cash gifts. Cars. Investments. Houses.

Alas, your time spent volunteering is truly a gift. It’s not deductible. How-ever, your un-reimbursed out of pocket expenses for charitable work are, as are your miles on the job (14¢ each). Be prepared to justify all charitable deductions with receipts, cancelled checks and/or personal records like a diary showing dates and items you want to claim.

By the way, volunteers are the backbone of nonprofits. Without them, most nonprofits couldn’t exist. Volunteering is easy and very satisfying. A three-hour shift once a week is a godsend to the nonprofit you choose to work for, and it will make you feel good about having helped people in need. Every Tuesday Sharing House gives a 30-minute tour to show folks how and what we do. Call 884-2866 to reserve your spot in the next one. We need you.

Giving directly to charity is easy. At Sharing House cash is usually preferred because it is easiest to convert into whatever is needed. We really appreciate your food gifts and gently used clothing. Household cleaning supplies and hygiene products are needed in every home but don’t qualify for food stamp purchases. Appliances, dishware, silverware, pots and pans, can openers and sheets and blankets are requested by families who may be setting up new households or living in a forest camp.

Figuring your taxes, you may deduct the fair market value of whatever you give. One easy way to figure this is to look at the price tags of items offered in local resale shops. Also, there are several websites to help you value your charitable gifts.

Your castoffs are not made of gold. Those $500 custom-made shoes are worth only $5 or $10. The same goes for your tailored clothes. Sturdy work shoes are more highly prized here than Gucci loafers.

Also, please wash your used clothing! No one wants to open a plastic bag full of stinky clothes, especially dirty diapers. (It happens!)

Some people remember their favorite charity in their wills. Cash bequests are pretty common and much appreciated. Every so often Sharing House gets a house from someone’s estate. Road-worthy cars are highly prized by workers who need reliable transportation to work.

IRAs, stocks, bonds, art … anything with cash value can be bequeathed. Such gifts are wonderful, but they can be difficult to convert to cash. You might keep this in mind as you write your will, and have your charity-bound legacy turned into dollars first. The time spent hassling with it reduces its value and, therefore, its effectiveness.

If you don’t itemize deductions on your 1040, North Carolina allows a credit for charitable giving. File Form D400-TC with your other forms.

It’s easy and, as long as you don’t claim the moon, it’s not usually an audit flag. Your tax pro can explain all this more fully.

You get to knock a few dollars off your taxes while somebody in town will get a nice sweater, pair of slacks, a nice dress or a warm winter coat. It’s a win/win.

All the resale shops in town depend on donations. They turn them into operating revenues to fund their charitable work. Sharing House gives food, free clothing and helps needy families keep the power on or stay in their homes when eviction is threatened. We also offer counseling to help clients get back on their feet and out of poverty.

If you missed the deadline for your 2012 taxes, next year will be upon you soon. Start giving!

Sharing House is at the corner of Oakdale and Duckworth in Brevard. Your food, clothing and household goods donations may be dropped off around the back. Cash donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 958, Brevard NC 28712.

Learn more about Sharing House at http://www.SharingHouse.org.

(Harrah volunteers as PR Coordinator for Sharing House.)

 
 

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