What to consider when donating your clutter

Goodwill StoreDonating your clutter can make you feel better about getting rid of items you no longer use or love. In addition to the tax advantages (donations are tax deductible), there’s a good feeling you get when you know your items are being put to good use.

Which charity?

Many charities seek items to be sold at their resale shops. Find one aligned with a favorite cause. Maybe it’s focused on helping veterans or cancer research. One of my favorites is WINGS located in the Northwest suburbs. They provide housing, integrated services, education and advocacy to end domestic violence. Check the ratings for charities online at Charity Navigator to make the most of your donations.

Do you need items picked up?

Not all charities pick up items from your home but you can easily find out who does by typing in your zip code online at Donation Town. I found nine choices for zip code 60674 and nine for 60613 (not all the same).

Know the common exceptions

Be wary of items that may not be accepted. This may include items that have been recalled, banned or don’t meet current safety standards. Computers and mattresses are not accepted by all charities. But it’s still relatively easy to find homes for these items. If computers are less than five years old and still work, donate them to places like PC Rebuilders & Recyclers for their Computers for Schools program. They even handle the digital data destruction so that you can be confident that none of your personal information is compromised. Drop items off at 4734 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago M-F. Also, SCARCE in Glen Ellyn will share computers with schools. Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois will also accept most electronics (except TVs). There are even some places who will take your used mattresses in good condition. Call ahead of time to verify what’s acceptable.

Creative ideas for memorabilia and valuables

If you have valuable sports memorabilia or artwork you would rather donate than sell, consider offering it to an organization that has a charity raffle. Ask your accountant before donating valuable items to learn about the tax advantages and requirements.

About those tax deductions

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a taxpayer can deduct the fair market value of clothing, household goods, used furniture, shoes, books, etc. Value usually depends on the condition of the item. By law, a charity cannot tell you what your donated items are worth. This is something you must do yourself. The IRS publishes guidelines regarding the determination of fair market value. Goodwill also publishes a convenient valuation guide which provides estimated prices for common items sold in their stores.
Donations are a great choice for getting rid of clutter. See how good it feels. Call a donation place from our list today.

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