Besides my job writing for Penny Thots, I have another one: as a personal property appraiser who specializes in textiles. I appraise a lot of quilts and counterpanes, as well as dishes, paper ephemera (postcards, historic letters and such), furniture and such. And life gets really busy around April 15.
Tax time starts clients to thinking about ways they can cut their bill — and one of the easiest ways to do it is to make a charitable contribution. Doing so not only lightens your ‘stuff ratio,’ and gets unwanted or unneeded items out of the way — but can be a real help to your favorite cause!
As long as they value under $250, you can donate your extra clothes, household goods and furniture to thrift shops, foundations and other nonprofit organizations, without any extra paperwork needed. If your items value more than $500, however (like the quilts in the photo below), you’ll need an appraisal by what the IRS terms a ‘certified’ appraiser. That means one with training and experience that include classes and certification by groups connected with the Appraisal Foundation. (Look for the terms ‘USPAP’ and ask appraisers about their qualifications.)
Additional certification is important, too — for example, if you’re having quilts appraised, the only group in the country that deals just with quilts are the appraisers certified by the American Quilter’s Society. Look for PAAQT membership: many of this group’s members (Professional Appraisers Association of Quilted Textiles) are not only certified by AQS, but other organizations, as well.
An appraiser is also a good way to figure out whether your property is valuable – and worth that fee. (Which is also tax-deductible, by the way.)
One caveat: appraisals must be done within 60 days or less of the actual donation. (Or the appraiser must do an updated report to certify that the items remain in the same condition as when appraised.) And the museum, historical society or other group must fill out the IRS paperwork.
Items that value $250 or less don’t need this paperwork, but must happen within the calendar year. Regardless of your items, make sure that the group you are donating to has been recognized as a nonprofit by the IRS.
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com