How to Determine Fair Market Value of Household Items

Donating household items can lower your taxes.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

The fair market value of an item is the amount you can use as a tax write-off if you donate your old stuff to a charity. It can come in handy when you get a new bedroom set and want to give the old one away, since donations help to decrease your taxes. Make sure to pay close attention to the Internal Revenue Service’s rules about such things to avoid taking the wrong deductions.

Step 1

Check to make sure that the stuff you’re valuing actually falls under the heading of household items. According to the IRS, household items are things like furniture, linens, appliances and electronics. Don’t include paintings, jewelry or food.

Step 2

Inspect all items for signs of wear and tear. The IRS lets you figure the fair market value of items in “good used condition,” but stuff with too much dirt or damage doesn’t count when you calculate the fair market value for a deduction.

Step 3

Compare your household items to similar items in consignment stores or thrift shops. The fair market value of your items should be in line with what comparable items are selling for in those stores.

Step 4

List all of the household items you are valuing. Include what the item is, what kind of condition it’s in, the cost of the item new, and what you’ve determined the fair market value to be. The IRS suggests that you support your claims with original purchase receipts that clearly show what each item cost new. Photographs proving your household items are in acceptable condition when you donate them will also help to support your claims of the fair market value for each item.

the nest