Giving to charity can be a win-win if you itemize deductions on your taxes. When you donate Beanie Babies or any other collectibles to charity, the group can auction them off to raise funds or give them away to toyless children. You get more space in your house and deduct the value of the Beanies -- or stamps, coins or comic-books, depending on your collecting passions -- from your taxes. To avoid any problems with the IRS, follow the rules for in-kind donations.
Look over your collection and weed out any Beanie Babies that are seriously damaged: They're not collectible and even poor kids want toys in decent shape. Hand-wash any dirty dolls with care, to avoid damaging them or ripping off their Beanie Baby tags.
Look up how much your Beanies are worth, using the most recent hard-copy price guides, Internet sites or surveying what the same dolls are currently selling for on eBay. If your collection isn't worth very much, that may be all the appraisal you need. If you intend to write off several hundred dollars for your donation, however, hire a professional appraiser so that you can prove the deduction isn't just a tax dodge.
Deliver your Beanie Babies to the charity. To claim the write-off, the charity must give you a receipt or a letter stating the date and location of the donation and identifying the toys you gave them. If you're claiming a deduction greater than $250, you'll need more paperwork, including details about when and how you bought the dolls.
Write the value of your donation down on Schedule A of your tax return. If you claim more than $500 in total noncash donations, you have to complete Part A of Form 8283 as well.
- If you receive any financial benefits from the charity as a thank you, deduct those from the value of your Beanie Baby donation.
- Search the IRS website to confirm that the charity you give the dolls to qualifies for tax-deductible donations.
- No matter how much you give to charity, normally you can't write off more than 50 percent of your taxable income; donations to some private foundations qualify for only a 30 percent write-off.
- If you give the Beanie Babies to a 30 percent foundation and it auctions your donation for more than $5,000, you have to subtract your "basis" -- usually your purchase price -- from the value of the dolls to get your deduction.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.