As the end of the year races toward us, the opportunities to find and take advantage of tax deductions and loopholes to save money on income taxes are growing scarce. Fortunately, there are still plenty of tax saving strategies that you can implement even with just a few weeks to go until the end of the tax year.
One of the most effective ways for typical households to lower their tax bill is by donating items to charities. Unlike cash donations, donating used goods to charity is a free way to reduce the income taxes you pay. A quick trip to the basement or storage closet could turn up several trash bags worth of used clothing that no longer fits your children, or you. Other items like shirts, pants, suits, jackets, shoes and more may just be out of style, or no longer fit your current dressing manner.
For example, workers who used to have to wear a suit and tie to the office may now work in a business casual environment. Unless you live on the East Coast, suit and tie occasions don’t come up all that often. Hold onto one dark suite for funerals and formal weddings, and one less formal suit for other semi-formal events. Even clinging onto one fun suit, or stylish suit that you “might” wear to “something” someday can still leave you with a dozen suits that can be donated to local charities. Keep track of everything you donate with “contemporaneous records.” Take the receipt from the charity and fill it out right away, but also keep a log in a notebook or a note card of everything you donate.
If you haven’t cleaned out your basement or storage unit in the last few years, there might be TONS of used clothing in there that you can donate. Don’t be afraid to donate it all and claim every last penny on your income taxes. Again, just keep very good records of exactly what you donated and when. Back up the charity’s receipt with your own logs, and, for extra measure, take some digital photos of the clothing. There is no need to capture itemized pictures, a few pics of a giant clothing pile and maybe one or two of the twenty bags being dropped off at Goodwill should be more than enough proof to head off any challenge regarding how much you donated.
Don’t stop at clothing. Small appliances (think anything that could be used in a dorm room or small apartment), electronics, sporting goods, and more can all be donated to charities that would gladly accept them.
As an added tip, break up your donations by dropping them off over several days, or donating a portion of your used goods to various different charities. The IRS requires additional documentation for single donations that exceed $500. Keep each donation under that amount, and relive the extra burden of documenting larger charitable donations.
With many charities having one of their worst year ever raising money for good causes, now is the time to pitch in and help out. By donating unwanted items that are laying around your house, you not only help good causes that you believe in, you can also make some money and save on your taxes next year at the same time. Plus, you house will be cleaner, and you might actually be able to find some of those important things that are lost in your storage areas.