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How to Get a Clothing Donation Tax Deduction

Updated on November 26, 2012

Few things are more satisfying than a freshly cleaned-out closet, but where do your clothes go?  If you cannot pass off old clothing to friends or family, you are probably considering either throwing them away or donating them.  You should donate!  Not only can your clothing help others, you can get a tax deduction.  What is not to like about that?

Below I'll guide you through the process of donating your clothing in such a way that you can claim that donation on your federal tax return.

You'll need to fill out this form if the total value of your clothing donation is greater than $500
You'll need to fill out this form if the total value of your clothing donation is greater than $500 | Source

Step 1: Weed Out the Bad Stuff

If you want your clothing donation to qualify for a tax deduction, it must be of good or excellent quality - no rags for the poor! A while back, clothing that was deemed to be in "fair" condition was considered OK, but those days are over.

To assess whether your old clothes are up to snuff, check to see that the clothing you are thinking of donating is:

  • Clean
  • Un-damaged
  • Free of holes and tears
  • Not wrinkled
Basically, if you would feel uncomfortable giving an article of clothing to a friend or relative, you should probably think twice about donating it to charity.  Nobody likes the jerk who unloads trash bags full of rags in front of Salvation Army stores.  

Step 2: Find a Qualified Organization

If you want to donate clothing and have it count for tax deductions, you must donate to a 501 C(3) nonprofit organization. The major charities that take clothing donations and count when it comes to tax credits include:

  • The Salvation Army
  • The Goodwill
  • The Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Salvation Army and Order of the Purple Heart will actually pick up clothing donations, which is very convenient! To read a more detailed guide to giving Purple Heart Donations, read my article on the subject.

If you have shoes to donate, consider giving to Soles4Souls, which is a nonprofit organization that accepts shoes that they in turn give to needy children and adults.  You might also consider giving used clothing to women with special needs by donating to Hand-Me-Down Used Clothing for Women.

Step 3: Calculate the Value of the Goods You Donate

Before making your donation, calculate the value of the clothing items you are donating.  Below is a helpful table that can help you determine the general value of some of the most common articles of clothing that you may donate. 

Donated Clothing Values

Low-End Value
High-End Value
Women's Blouse or Men's Shirt

Step 4: Get a Receipt

It is always a good idea to get a receipt when you donate something, and if the total value of what you donate is greater than $250, you will have to provide a receipt in order to have it count for tax purposes. If you are not given a receipt, you must have a written acknowledgement from the organization to which you donated proving that you did indeed make the donation.

Hold on to your receipts as the year progresses and keep them all in one place so that they're easy to find when tax season rolls around!

Step 5: Fill Out the Right Forms

If the total value of your donations made throughout the year is less than $500, all you need to do is share the total value of those donations on line 17 of your Schedule A.  This is one of the backup forms of the 1040 long form, which is the more detailed alternative to the 1040-EZ, and it allows you to make itemized deductions on things like medical expenses, interest paid, and job expenses.

If your noncash donation total has a value greater than $500, you will need to file the IRS Form 8283 with your tax return. This is a special form for noncash charitable contributions, and is fairly simple. All you have to do is provide information on the property you donated, the name and address of the organization(s) to which you donated, and dates of your various contributions.


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    • profile image

      Kattonic Cats 5 years ago

      My husband died in March. If I donate all of his clothing, shoes, coats, etc. it's going to add up to more than $500, even if I pick the "low price". Do I really have to call in an appraiser? Someone told me I could just list all the stuff and take pictures of what I was donating as proof, is that okay for the IRS?

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      I will have to keep this in mind next time I am doing my spring cleaning. Thanks for sharing this helpful information.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Our school has a Goodwill Bin. We keep forms in the school office for anyone who wants one...or they can just print it out themselves online.

    • mljdgulley354 profile image

      mljdgulley354 5 years ago

      We have Goodwill Bins around the city with attendants who will fill out the donation form. Great hub

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, that's really good to know! Thanks sylvar deskins!

    • profile image

      sylvar deskins 5 years ago

      Also not the SPCA (although I am sure they may accept them too) but the Animal Care & Control in San Francisco (and I'm sure tons of other cities) accepts old sheets and towels for rags and bedding for the animals they house. Its a great donation to make and it just has to be clean and in a bag.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm glad my notes were of service!

    • profile image

      tirelesstraveler 6 years ago

      The Tax man told us to itemize our none cash donations. Thank for showing me how.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, ezhang!! Well, you could always wash and iron out those things that are wrinkled, and they'll be good to go. If an old shirt or something is totally shredded and filthy, it might not be good to donate, but it sure will make a great cleaning rag!

    • ezhang profile image

      Edward Zhang 6 years ago from Bay Area, CA

      Very informative hub! I learned a lot about the donation process for clothing.

      One question: what about the clothes that cannot be donated? The ones that are wrinkled, etc. Seems such a waste to just throw it away...

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Whoah! So it's a sort of matching program? That's the coolest!!

    • profile image

      hartingale 6 years ago

      It's clled gift aid in the UK and it means every donation you make to charity has 20% of its value is added on by the treasury.