Taxpayer asks:

Dear Taxgirl,

Can I deduct as charitable donation the FMV for the stuff I gave away for free on Craiglist? Thank you.

Taxgirl says:

Sorry, only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax deductible. Qualified charitable organizations are those that are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or are de facto charitable organizations like churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. If you’re not sure whether an organization is qualified, ask to see the determination letter from the IRS: many will post the letter on their website. You can also search the IRS database online using the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool.

Donations to individuals will not qualify for a tax deduction. You cannot deduct contributions to individuals no matter how deserving. This includes handouts to the homeless and collections in your neighborhood for those experiencing tough times – as well as giving away your things for free on websites like Craigslist or Freecycle, even if it’s for a good cause. If a tax deduction is important to you, consider working with an organization which provides disaster or other relief.

Before you go: be sure to read my disclaimer. Remember, I’m a lawyer and we love disclaimers.
If you have a question, here’s how to Ask The Taxgirl.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

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