5

(In the United States)

If I buy tools and use them to build furniture that I donate to charity, what can I write off?

I assume I could write off cost of tools, materials, electricity, and perhaps time spent? But I am unsure on specifics.

Does it get more complicated if I ever use the tools for a personal project?

1 Answer 1

7

If I buy tools and use them to build furniture that I donate to charity, what can I write off?

Maybe on the tools.

Does it get more complicated if I ever use the tools for a personal project?

This looks like you bought the tools, and made one item that was donated to charity, then used the tools for yourself. Now if you donated the tools to the charity that would be a different story.

I assume I could write off cost of tools, materials, electricity, and perhaps time spent? But I am unsure on specifics.

  • Tools: Maybe. See above.
  • Materials: Yes. But save the receipts.
  • Electricity: Yes. But hard to calculate unless you needed to run a kiln for 3 days.
  • Time spent: No you can't deduct your time.

You can also deduct mileage, parking and tolls.

Make sure you get receipts for parking, tolls, materials, and that you get a receipt from the charity when you donate the furniture.

Edit to discuss the cost of the tools:

  • If you donated tools you already owned, then the value of the donated tools would be significantly less than the purchase price.
  • If you bought new tools and donated them without using them, then the purchase price on the receipt would be the value used when figuring the deduction.
  • You could purchase the tools, deliver them to the charity, use them on site, and then leave them at the charity. That would also make the value equal to the purchase price.
  • If the only thing you did was make the furniture that was donated to the charity, and then delivered the tools at the same time, then I would have no problem having the donation equal the purchase price.
  • If you waited a long time between making the furniture and the donation of the tools, the tools would be considered used.

The point is that you can't claim a donation for the tools if you keep the tools...

3
  • 2
    Why would the purchase price of the tools be deductible as a charitable donation? Even if the tools were donated to the charity after building the furniture; they are used tools, not new. Most charities do not provide a valuation for donated goods but often give a receipt where the value is something g that the donor can fill in for himself.... Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 3:28
  • 1
    I suppose if you used the tools to the point of destruction making charity furniture, then the cost of the tools is logically part of the cost of the furniture, much like the materials. But if you come out of the endeavour owning a set of tools, that is value that you get, not to the charity. If there were some way to measure the cost of wear and tear on the tools, maybe you could deduct that?
    – Ben
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 6:48
  • @DilipSarwate I suspect the order of events can be handled loosely if the tools were used for nothing except building furniture for the charity. It's (morally) equivalent to you donating new tools to the charity, then using the charity's tools to build furniture for the charity. (Whether the IRS would agree is another question, I suppose.)
    – chepner
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 0:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .