Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

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rakaye47
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Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by rakaye47 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:11 am

Anyone know the best way to donate my old books and get the maximum amount of tax writeoffs?

noraz123
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by noraz123 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:28 am

I will donate most of my used items to Goodwill. At least at my local store, they will give me a receipt for self reported value of donations.

I claim the amount it would sell for at the Goodwill store. Part of this is a guessing game, but for used books, referencing Half.com or Amazon.com (used books) should give you a good sense of what they are worth.

wishin&hopin
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by wishin&hopin » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:32 am


rakaye47
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by rakaye47 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:59 am

Dayumn only $2 for a book? Maybe I'll just donate to my local library and help my community instead.

wishin&hopin
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by wishin&hopin » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:01 am

rakaye47 wrote:Dayumn only $2 for a book? Maybe I'll just donate to my local library and help my community instead.


That's what I do.

Sidney
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by Sidney » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:33 am

My library sells used books (which have been donated to them) for $.25 for paperbacks and $.50 for most hardbacks. Some go for a $1. So I don't bother with keeping track for taxes since the market value in our area is so low.
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donocash
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by donocash » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:38 am

My library also has a used book sale, twice a year.

The last sale netted 14,000 dollars, so it really helps the library, even if the books are being sold individually for under $5.

So, don't be discouraged by the low prices that the library sells your donated books for. It adds up!

livesoft
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by livesoft » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:02 am

donocash wrote:My library also has a used book sale, twice a year.

The last sale netted 14,000 dollars, ...

So what does that amount to in terms of new college textbooks? About 4 books? :)
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joe8d
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by joe8d » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:05 pm

Your Public Library will accept your donation and give you a receipt for tax purposes,
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Clever_Username
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by Clever_Username » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:26 am

I've never done this, but I have probably about a moving box's worth of books I likely won't read again but are in decent condition. How do I go about donating them to a library?
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dolphinsaremammals
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:26 pm

Sidney wrote:My library sells used books (which have been donated to them) for $.25 for paperbacks and $.50 for most hardbacks. Some go for a $1. So I don't bother with keeping track for taxes since the market value in our area is so low.


That's about what my library does. And some days they sell a grocery bag of used books for $1 :D

Caduceus
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by Caduceus » Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:33 pm

It depends on how many books you have and what kind of books they are.

Some non-fiction books will carry higher prices if you sell them on Ebay or Amazon or Abe than if you just tried to claim the deduction.

I would list the more expensive ones for sale and make sure you offer the lowest price on Amazon Marketplace or whatever broker you use so you can move the inventory fast. And then just give away the rest to the library.

You can try this website:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/15/world ... oilet.html

ralph124cf
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by ralph124cf » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:37 pm

You are allowed to deduct the retail value of the used goods that you donate. Most retail used book stores sell gently used paperbacks for 50% of face value, hardbacks for about 25%. You are not required to use charity store valuations, they have zero basis in the merchandise, so everything is profit.

Ralph

island
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by island » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:03 am

ralph124cf wrote:You are allowed to deduct the retail value of the used goods that you donate. Most retail used book stores sell gently used paperbacks for 50% of face value, hardbacks for about 25%. You are not required to use charity store valuations, they have zero basis in the merchandise, so everything is profit.

Ralph


Dang wish I read this before I finished my taxes about an hour ago. Gave a big stash of read once books to the library this year and only valued at $1 each. :oops:

communipaw
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by communipaw » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:11 pm

In the past two years I've donated about 3,000 books and there was a problem involved. I didn't want to have the books just destroyed but wanted them to benefit people who needed/wanted them. My books are academic/scholarly/foreign language and do not command a wide reading audience.

I could have sold them on the internet and known I would be selling to people who would actually use them; but I was too lazy to go through selling, boxing, mailing, handling payments for thousands of books.

I could have donated them to Goodwill [I believe it's 80¢ per soft back and $1.80 per hard back] but I knew the books would wind up pulped/destroyed because there'd be no market for them. To donate them to a to the local library system, would have the same result. To donate them to a university/college that had the appropriate academic departments that could use them would again have involved MUCH work packing them up tightly for shipping and paying very high shipping charges.

Luckily I found an academic society that has an annual book sale, they picked them up and I took the 80¢/$1.80 per book deduction and have the hope the books will actually be used.

But I am writing all this for a different reason.

Last year was the first time I had my tax return done by a professional instead of by me with Turbotax; I saw him after I had donated the first 2500 books.

He pointed out that if I searched for my books on the internet and found prices for actual sale [not auctions ] and if mine matched edition and condition, I could use that price for each book which I looked up. I then began doing so and was shocked to find what book stores charge [not offer for auction sale] and what people pay for many used books.

Most of my scholarly books were given away already and I started on what I thought were the worthless ones [except for the sentimental value for me]: European and US train and ship time tables, 50 year old travel guides, 40 year old art history and history books, belles lettres in only somewhat unusual editions etc.

For each book I copied from the website not just the price but all the details of the sales offering as well as the URL for IRS purposes.

My reaction to all this wasn't so much that I could now get a higher tax deduction but rather shock/awe/ amazement at what people pay for things.

Caduceus
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by Caduceus » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:33 pm

For each book I copied from the website not just the price but all the details of the sales offering as well as the URL for IRS purposes.


I think the fair market value of a book can't be determined simply by the asking price. Marketplaces on Amazon or Abebooks regularly give a wide range of quoted prices for the same book in the same edition and condition, particularly for niche non-fiction. The IRS states that sales price is only one element in determining FMV.

In any case, once the deduction goes beyond $5,000, my understanding is that you would need a professional appraisal, and you cannot determine the value of donated property transacted at arms length on your own.

quercus
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by quercus » Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:35 pm

I do something similar to Communipaw.

The AbeBooks website lists books for sale by 1000's of dealers worldwide. Interestingly, you'll often see charities listed among the booksellers. It's not uncommon to find 100's of dealers selling your exact book.

For donation purposes, I maintain a spreadsheet that lists Author, Title, PB/HC and Value. I get the value by searching on ABE. If there are more than a couple dozen hits, I'll narrow down the search criteria, trying to balance an exact match vs a decent number of results. For example, you can optionally narrow it down with new vs used, US vs international seller, paperback vs hardcover, dustjacket, publication date, etc. The results are sorted by price, and I take a representative price from the middle of the list (ideally the median value).

This way I've got a detailed record for the IRS, and hopefully a defensible valuation strategy. It's definitely better than my old approach of putting down "two boxes of books" completely guessing what the value might be.

jlawrence01
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by jlawrence01 » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:00 pm

Caduceus wrote:
For each book I copied from the website not just the price but all the details of the sales offering as well as the URL for IRS purposes.


I think the fair market value of a book can't be determined simply by the asking price. Marketplaces on Amazon or Abebooks regularly give a wide range of quoted prices for the same book in the same edition and condition, particularly for niche non-fiction. The IRS states that sales price is only one element in determining FMV.

In any case, once the deduction goes beyond $5,000, my understanding is that you would need a professional appraisal, and you cannot determine the value of donated property transacted at arms length on your own.



The OP easily could break up the donation into several donations and avoid the appraisal.

Stuff
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Re: Donating old books and getting tax writeoff?

Post by Stuff » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:29 pm

communipaw wrote:In the past two years I've donated about 3,000 books and there was a problem involved. I didn't want to have the books just destroyed but wanted them to benefit people who needed/wanted them. My books are academic/scholarly/foreign language and do not command a wide reading audience.

I could have sold them on the internet and known I would be selling to people who would actually use them; but I was too lazy to go through selling, boxing, mailing, handling payments for thousands of books.

I could have donated them to Goodwill [I believe it's 80¢ per soft back and $1.80 per hard back] but I knew the books would wind up pulped/destroyed because there'd be no market for them. To donate them to a to the local library system, would have the same result. To donate them to a university/college that had the appropriate academic departments that could use them would again have involved MUCH work packing them up tightly for shipping and paying very high shipping charges.

Luckily I found an academic society that has an annual book sale, they picked them up and I took the 80¢/$1.80 per book deduction and have the hope the books will actually be used.

But I am writing all this for a different reason.

Last year was the first time I had my tax return done by a professional instead of by me with Turbotax; I saw him after I had donated the first 2500 books.

He pointed out that if I searched for my books on the internet and found prices for actual sale [not auctions ] and if mine matched edition and condition, I could use that price for each book which I looked up. I then began doing so and was shocked to find what book stores charge [not offer for auction sale] and what people pay for many used books.

Most of my scholarly books were given away already and I started on what I thought were the worthless ones [except for the sentimental value for me]: European and US train and ship time tables, 50 year old travel guides, 40 year old art history and history books, belles lettres in only somewhat unusual editions etc.

For each book I copied from the website not just the price but all the details of the sales offering as well as the URL for IRS purposes.

My reaction to all this wasn't so much that I could now get a higher tax deduction but rather shock/awe/ amazement at what people pay for things.


Hi communipaw. I used a great app on my Android phone, "Book Catalogue", to scan the ISBN of several hundred books I donated to Salvation Army. The tool produces an XLS with about 30 attributes (ISBN, retail price, author, title, cover, etc.) for each book. Just last night I started to use a site, biblio.com, to get used prices for these books using ISBN/TITLE searches to justify my book valuations. I'm also screen-capping the biblio.com details for each book including the sales price, vendor, book title, ISBN, etc. It's good to know at least one tax professional suggests Internet pricing of used books should work to value the books for tax purposes.

Since you posted this did you have any complaints from the IRS on this book valuation technique or have you found reasons not to use this technique in the future?

Thank you.

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