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katy @ ngenius.com

I’ve Got Fewer Non-Cash Tax-Deductible Donations To Give This Year

It's sad for my 2008 taxes, but maybe crummy deductions is a good thing?


For many years now, I’ve used a program now marketed by Intuit called “It’s Deductible”.

It started out in booklet form, which I still consider way more convenient than the computer program, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, this program lists the supposed fair market resale value of your used clothing and household items, so that you can come up with an IRS-approved valuation of your donations for tax-deduction purposes.

I’ve been frankly shocked by the generous values I’ve been able to assign to my non-cash charitable donations, which usually end up being carted to my local Goodwill Store. In fact, the money I’ve saved on our income tax bill each of the past five years has amounted to something of a part-time job for me. It’s made me feel a bit proud of myself to think of how I’ve (legally!) prevented Uncle Sam from getting his hands on even more of our money.

This year, though, was different. For one thing, no kids lived with us for even part of the year. Which means, of course, they weren’t here to move out, thereby not leaving half of all their stuff for us to dispose of. In addition, in the fall of 2007, after our youngest son moved into a house with his buddies, we did a major dejunking of every square inch of our property. What we didn’t sell, we gave away and took the tax deduction.

And finally, we resolved to STOP buying more stuff. Honestly, when you get to be a Late Boomer, if you’re anything like us, you’ve got as much stuff as you’ll ever need. I remember my grandmother telling us, when she was about my age, “Don’t buy me anything else I’ll have to dust.” Amen, Grandma!

So last week, I sat down to valuate my giveaway pile, and let me tell you, I was sorely disappointed. I compared the total value of all my non-cash donations to what I’ve given in previous years and wondered how on earth I could have come up with so little to give.

Was I being a cheapskate, ignoring the serious needs of the less fortunate? Was I becoming bizarrely sentimental about stuff I should obviously be getting rid of? Or could it be that my husband and I had actually succeeded in halting the flow of material possessions into our home?

Bingo! We have a winner!

Of course, that left me with the little problem of how to replace that lost tax deduction. Why, if I didn’t help out around here by continually shopping, storing, sorting, bagging up, and getting rid of stuff, I might have to get another real job!

Here’s the deal: Until the government cracks down on what they’ll surely end up calling loopholes in the tax code, there are other ways to get deductions. For me and my house, that means bigger contributions to our tax-deferred retirement accounts, fully funding our tax-advantaged health savings accounts, and writing a larger check to our favorite charity.

If the feds decided today to lose the non-cash donation deduction, I guess I could live with that. Especially since I’m finally not hauling home any more stuff.

Posted by Katy on 01/04/09
in Personal Finance
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Are You a Late Boomer?

If looming retirement is catching you off-guard between an aging parent and a revolving-door kid, you might be. If you've delayed travel only to discover they've changed the names of all the countries, you are. And if you're a member of the Baby Boomer Generation who's ready to give back but you've forgotten where you put it, stay tuned. From healthcare to personal finance, from career changes to volunteerism, it's time to boom where you are planted.