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Given an LCD television using primarily for personal use, if I were to donate it what would the donation value be?

I assumed that I should take straight-line depreciation over its useful life? IRS says 5-years for computer equipment, but I couldn't find an IRS guideline for TV's. Googling turning up a non-IRS page suggesting 12-year for color TVs.

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    My understanding is that you have to get a receipt stating the value from the organization you donate it to. You can't just donate stuff and decide the value. – DJClayworth Sep 28 '16 at 14:52
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    @DJClayworth Depends how interested the organization is in basic courtesy. In my experience (places like Goodwill), they only give you a detailed receipt about 10% of the time. Usually, they will either not offer anything at all (you have to ask) or they give you blank one and you have to fill it out on your own. Which is probably illegal on their part, but nobody seems to care. – GalacticCowboy Sep 28 '16 at 14:56
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    How someone who makes enough money for itemized deductions to be worthwhile (vs the standard deduction) thinks it makes sense to spend their time trying to save a few bucks on taxes is beyond me... – R.. Sep 28 '16 at 17:21
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    @R.. how much is your time worth that you spent it writing that comment, which earned you not even a few bucks? – stannius Sep 28 '16 at 17:38
  • @GalacticCowboy Second this... Goodwill always asks if I want a receipt and I usually say no, but the one time I had a lot of stuff and said yes they just gave me a blank one with "guidelines" on how to value stuff. I thought the whole purpose of the receipt is that I don't have to just make stuff up about what I think I donated is worth and have actual proof of what I donated! – Michael Sep 28 '16 at 18:20
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IRS Pub 561 says you have to use fair market value. You cannot simply use a depreciated value.

You should attempt to determine what people normally pay for comparable items, and be prepared to defend your determination with evidence in the event of an audit.

16

The usual lazy recommendation: See what similar objects, in similar condition, of similar age, have sold for recently on eBay. That establishes a fair market value by directly polling the market.

  • Or craigslist, though that has the problem that you will only see prices for sales that didn't happen (which may indicate the prices are too high). – stannius Sep 28 '16 at 17:00
6

Is it a tube television, digital, analog, what? Tube televisions are no longer made in (or imported to) the U.S., and if it's an analog set then it would require a digital converter just for anyone to use it for watching broadcast signals, since analog television signals are gone and have been replaced by DTV. That makes all the difference in the world as far as valuation. If it doesn't have resale value to begin with then I doubt you can put a real value on it for donation purposes.

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    To your point, nowadays tube TVs may have a negative value since it oftentimes costs money to get rid of them. (The garbage trucks won't take them off the curb anymore- you have to pay to drop them off at a recycling center.) – TTT Sep 27 '16 at 21:46
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    I don't believe CRT tubes have mercury in them. Fluorescent bulbs do, but not CRT tubes. – zeta-band Sep 27 '16 at 21:59
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    It's an LCD TV that's a ~4 years old. – Matthew Sep 27 '16 at 22:19
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    @zeta-band, you're correct. There's no mercury, but quite a bit of lead. Upvote for the correction! – Daniel Anderson Sep 27 '16 at 22:23
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    A 4-year old LCD? Depending on size, brand and condition, it might just be nice of you to donate it and not worry about the tax deduction. Just a thought... – Daniel Anderson Sep 27 '16 at 22:24
1

I used TurboTax last year. It had a section for donations where it figured out the amounts of the IRS approved values for a donation.

You would need to know the size of the television and the current condition it is in.

He's a screenshot - though it's not from the TV section.

enter image description here

https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Taxes-101/Video--How-to-Estimate-the-Value-of-Clothing-for-IRS-Deductions/INF13870.html+&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

TurboTax offers a free online tool called ItsDeductible that does the same thing (though I haven't tried it).

Unfortunately, I don't have the current one with TV's to give you the range of amounts that apply to yours.

--I am not affiliated with TurboTax and did not receive it for free for a review.

  • Welcome to Personal Finance & Money! This answer will likely be deleted because it only provides information about a resource for determining the answer, rather than actually answering the question. Please visit the Help Center for more info. – dg99 Sep 28 '16 at 21:54
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    @dg99 - Unfortunately, there are more criteria for determining the value, like it's condition and size, which are not in the question. I took the question as "How Can I determine" not "What is the value of the thing in my hand". My answer seems much more helpful to than an exact answer to his specific (unknown) item. – Hannover Fist Sep 28 '16 at 22:11
  • I wonder how Intuit comes up with their values because they always seem crazy to me. Way more than I would expect to spend buying the item from the same thrift store I donated it to. That said, the highest value for a TV they have is "Television: LCD: 50 inch or larger" which they say is worth as much as $499. – stannius Oct 25 '16 at 15:36
  • @stannous - That is crazy - I only paid $429 for a 55" a few months ago. It looks like I'm donating the old one. – Hannover Fist Oct 25 '16 at 16:42

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