If I Donate Used Property to Charity, What Documentation is Needed?
The documentation needed to obtain a federal income tax deduction for donating used property to a charity typically depends on the value of the property. In general, do not attach the documentation to your income tax return. Keep the records so that you can provide them to the IRS if requested to do so.
If you claim a deduction of less than $250, you must have a receipt from the charitable organization (a letter acknowledging your contribution will suffice) that shows the name of the organization, the date and location of your contribution, and a reasonably detailed description of the property. You must also have a record of the fair market value (FMV) of the property (and how you determined it) at the time of the contribution.
If you claim a charitable deduction for $250 or more, you must substantiate the contribution with a contemporaneous written acknowledgment of the contribution from the charity. The acknowledgment must contain the name of the charity and a reasonably detailed description of the property. The acknowledgment must also include either (1) a statement that no goods and services were provided by the charity in return for the contribution, (2) a good-faith estimate of the value of such goods and services (these reduce the amount of the charitable deduction), or (3) a statement that the goods and services were token benefits or consisted entirely of insubstantial membership benefits or intangible religious benefits.
If the value of the contribution is over $500, your records must also include how you acquired the property (e.g., purchase, gift, inheritance, or exchange), when you obtained the property, and the cost or other basis of the property (including any adjustments).
If you claim a deduction of over $5,000 for a noncash charitable contribution of one item or a group of similar items, you must also obtain a qualified written appraisal of the donated property from a qualified appraiser.
If the amount of your deduction for all noncash contributions is more than $500, you must file IRS Form 8283 with your federal income tax return.