How to Donate Books for Tax Deductions

How to Donate Books for Tax Deductions
Donating old books can reap tax benefits.

Check the condition of all books you intend to donate, making sure none of them have missing or defaced pages and covers. The idea is to donate books to an organization that can make good use of them or sell them. Further, the IRS stipulates donated items need to be in good used condition or better. Badly damaged or incomplete books are unlikely to sell, and their value is negligible.

Calculate the total fair market value of your books. As far as the IRS is concerned, fair market value is considered to be the price a buyer is willing to pay a seller when neither party has to buy or sell, and when both parties are aware of the conditions of the sale. For further details on this, refer to IRS Pub. 561. If the fair market value of all your non-cash contributions is more than $500, you will also have to file IRS Form 8283 (Noncash Charitable Contributions) with your return.

Take your books to your local library and let them know you'd like to make a charitable donation. Some of the more desirable book titles may end up on the library shelves, while others may be sold at one of the library's periodic bookfairs. As with all tax matters, keeping accurate tax records is a must, so be sure to ask the library for an itemized receipt for the books so you have written documentation regarding the fair market value of the donation for your tax records.

Enter the total amount of your charitable donation on line 17 of the IRS Schedule A form you use to claim all of your itemized deductions. Remember that if the total of your charitable donations is more than $250, you'll need a bank record, payroll deduction record or some sort of written acknowledgement of the donation from the charitable organization. It's important to keep detailed records of your contribution, since you'll have to substantiate the tax deduction in the event of an IRS audit.