Familiar to most are the organizations such as Good Will which accept a variety of items and then resell them in thrift stores. However, there are other less known charities that accept specialized items, all of which can be claimed as charitable donations.
Be a Fairy Godmother or Godfather
Formal dresses can find new homes at the Cinderella Project of New Hampshire. The mission of this organization is to distribute formal dresses to high school students in New Hampshire who are facing financial difficulty. Sister organizations allow the same to be done in various states across the country. Donations of dresses, accessories, unopened cosmetics and hosiery, as well as monetary donations are accepted throughout the year. Through volunteers, known as "fairy godmothers and godfathers," the organization distributes the dresses to teens who are eligible.
"We wish our volunteers could all see the sighs of relief for the low income families so they can appropriate their budgets for school clothing instead of prom gowns," says Joanne Sowa of the Cinderella Project.
Take a Step Up
Used athletic shoes aren't for the trash can anymore. Instead, they are recycled into athletic surfaces thanks to Nike and its Reuse-A-Shoe program which began in 1993. Any brand of athletic shoe can be donated to the charity which then shreds them and creates new surfaces such as basketball courts and running tracks for community parks and recreation facilities around the world that otherwise couldn't afford such expensive playing areas.
Shoes donated to the Reuse-A-Shoe program should not be tied together and should be mailed to an appropriate drop off center. Information about the program can be found on Nike's website at www.nikebiz.com. Follow the links under the "responsibility" tab then the "environment" tab. An interactive map is available for drop off locations.
Give It One More Read
Books are a great donation item. Local libraries often sell used books as fundraisers, and since many states have cut library budgets the sale of used books often provides for library activites such as children's summer reading programs. Most libraries, however, do not want books such as Reader's Digest, textbooks, and harlequin-style romance.
Textbooks do have their own place. Check for local adult literacy programs who often build their libraries around donated books. Daycares and YMCAs often do the same. One organization which accepts textbooks in quantity is Bridge to Asia. Through donations, it supplies educational materials to developing countries. Over 6 million books have been delivered to over 1000 different schools in various countries in the last 16 years of operation. Information can be found at 415-678-2990 http://www.bridge.org
For detailed information about the sales tax deduction, consult IRS Publication 600, State and Local General Sales Taxes, and the interactive State and Local Sales Tax Calculator found on IRS.gov. More information about each of these topics is available at IRS.gov. IRS forms and publications can be downloaded from the Web site or obtained by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Can you deduct your rent payment on your taxes? I have been told two different things. So if there are people that are familiar with this please inform us asap. Thank you for your support.
By Vera from Wichita Falls, TX
Here's the specific page at the IRS site that answers your question:
Scroll almost all the way to the bottom under the "Non-Deductible Expenses" heading--rent is there as a no-no.
Unless you are running a home business, in which case you're permitted only a portion of the rent dependent upon how many rooms in your rental you're using for the home office; there's plenty more on that at the IRS site, too.
What pieces of my cell phone bill do I need to take to my tax prep? I started using my personal cell for some calls that were work related in June 08. Do I need to highlight specific calls, or just give him a monthly payment rundown?
Dede from Macon, MO
TurboTax is so very easy to understand and use that I wonder why so many people don't prepare and file their own returns. You answer the questions that TurboTax asks you and you enter in the figures from your W2 and any other forms you have. The software will tell you the names/numbers of the forms. If you don't understand a term you can easily find it's definition by going to help. I'd like to make a suggestion to those who are skeptical. Go to www.IRS.gov and find the link to TurboTax.
Figure your own taxes to get a feel for how the software works. If you're not comfortable then you don't have to file it yourself; it's not done until you hit the submit/file function. OR after you have your return prepared by a professional go the the same site; enter your information and see if you come up with the same results he/she did. This way you will learn and become confident in doing it yourself.
Give it a try if you're tired of paying, in most cases a lot of money for a return that sometimes took 5 to 10 minutes total. In a lot of cases there is no charge for TurboTax and free filing. When the software walks you thru the process you may find things that you can deduct that you hadn't thought of and things that you didn't even know about; things that you didn't tell that professional. This sounds like a commercial for TurboTax but I do not have ties with them I just like their software and have used it for years.