Donating furniture is a good way to give to charity and get rid of unwanted decor while also lowering your tax burden. No complicated calculations are needed for this type of tax credit. The Internal Revenue Service regulations for household donations are fairly straightforward. You can donate as much furniture as you want, and file claims for each piece as long as you can produce the proper documentation.
The organization you donate to must have tax-exempt status from the IRS. In other words, no, you can't donate your couch to your “financially disadvantaged” cousin and write it off. He may be a charity case in your eyes, but unless he has tax-exempt status, your donation will not net you any tax benefits. If you have any doubts, ask the organization for proof of its status or look it up on a website such as GuideStar.
Yes, your Eames chair may be fabulous and authentic, but you have to be realistic about the value of a donation. Often, the organization you donate to will give you the value on the receipt. If you have to figure it out yourself, you must have the receipt to support the value. If you say you bought your bedroom set for $2,500, and it is now worth $1,600, you must have the original purchase receipt to back up your valuation claim in case you're audited by the IRS.
Donations Over $500
Get an appraisal if you plan to claim a tax credit of $500 or more for any single piece of furniture. According to the IRS, “to be deductible, clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better.” The “good used condition or better” stipulation is waived if you claim a $500 or more deduction and you have “a qualified appraisal of the item with (the) return.” Appraisals can come from antiques experts or furniture dealers. However, the IRS also accepts a receipt from the organization that shows the exact price.
Get a Receipt
It doesn't matter if you donate $5 or $5,000 worth of furniture, you will need a receipt to cover yourself and prove your deductions are legitimate. The receipt is only worthwhile if it says what you donated and shows the name and address of the organization.