4 Apps to Track Clothing and Household Donations for Tax Write-Offs
Donating to charitable organizations is a critically important way to help support causes that are essential to your community and the planet—whether it involves giving clothing or household goods to a local shelter or thrift organization or providing ongoing funding to an NGO in another country.
Come tax season, however, you'll need to tally up all of those contributions in order to be eligible for a potential tax deduction. It's a task that can be tedious and often challenging if you do not dutifully record the contributions your family made throughout the year.
"Giving items or money to causes you feel strongly about can sometimes become overwhelming, especially when it comes time to track your donations, since there are so many different ways to donate these days," says family finance expert Andrea Woroch.
The good news is that there are a handful of apps that can make the task of tracking charitable giving of household items and clothing easier—and some of these apps even help calculate the value of the donations. Here are a few of the options.
ItsDeductible, by TurboTax
A free app, ItsDeductible allows you to manage all of your family's charitable donations on a single platform. The app also includes a very helpful feature: It provides accurate values for the items you've donated. ItsDeductible does this by calculating the actual resale value of household items you donate based on the style and condition of those items.
"I also like that the app easily connects with TurboTax, so you can seamlessly transfer the data to your tax return and ensure nothing is overlooked," says Woroch.
ItsDeductible also claims to be able to reduce your risk of audit by providing information about what, exactly, the IRS allows and does not allow you to deduct from federal tax filings. And finally, if you have any questions about your charitable giving, you can easily get answers via the AnswerXchange feature provided by TurboTax.
Download ItsDeductible here.
Salvation Army Family Store App
Using the Salvation Army Family Store App, you can donate clothes and household items, schedule a time for donation pick-up (or find a drop-off location), and obtain a receipt for the donations. The app also tracks all of the donations you've made.
The Salvation Army accepts everything from furniture to clothing, books, household items, and even vehicles. Download the app here.
Charity Clothing Pickup
This app is limited to serving those in a specific geographic region: Texas, Florida, Missouri, Louisiana, and Ohio. If you happen to live in one of those areas, the Charity Clothing Pickup app can be very helpful come tax season.
Here's how it works: Use the app to create an account, and then schedule a pick-up for used clothing and small household items. When the pick-up day and time arrives, simply leave the items in bags or boxes outside of your home, somewhere a driver can easily gather them. Once the items have been collected, you will receive a receipt for tax purposes. And the bonus is that the app tracks your history of donations, so that you don't have to. The app can be found in the app store on your mobile phone.
Admittedly, this is not an app or platform specifically designed to track your charitable clothing donations. However, it's still possible to do just that using thredUP, an online consignment and thrift store. Here's how.
The clothing resale platform offers what it calls a "Donation Clean Out Bag" program, which allows you to send in unwanted old clothes and get a tax receipt in exchange. (This is instead of getting a payout for reselling your used clothing through ThredUP.) The company, in turn, donates $5 per bag on your behalf to a charity of your choice as part of the Donation Clean Out Bag program.
Within one week of your bag being received by thredUP, you receive a tax donation receipt via email.
"The downside is there are a limited number of charity partners to choose from, but the charity will still receive the $5 donation for each Donation Clean Out Bag," says Ben Reynolds, CEO, and founder of the personal finance and investment website Sure Dividend.
The charitable partners currently listed on the thredUP platform include Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, Feeding America, Girls Inc., Help a Mother Out, and Wardrobe for Opportunity. thredUP accepts all women's, men's, and kids' clothing, handbags, shoes, and accessories as part of the charitable giving program.
You can find the thredUP app here.
Tips to keep in mind
The market of apps specifically focused on tracking clothing and household donations remains limited. For those who have made monetary donations to charitable organizations, there are slightly more options for tracking your contributions, says Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate.
"Many of the big tax preparation software companies have apps that can track your charitable deductions and integrate them into your return when it's time to file," explains Rossman. "Many credit card companies also provide a year-end summary with charitable deductions noted as a separate category, which can help, as long as that's accurate and comprehensive. But it may not be a complete solution, since many donations are made with cash or goods. Nonetheless, it might be helpful."
One such option is Capital One's Eno, which looks for transactions completed with your Capital One credit card that appear to be charitable donations—and provides a list of these contributions at the beginning of each year, well ahead of the tax filing deadline.
Of course, there's always the old-fashioned way of tracking charitable donations, says Rossman—using a spreadsheet or document that you update throughout the year with a running total of money and clothes or other items that have been donated.
"The bottom line is everyone should come up with a system that works for them," says Rossman. "That might include technology or just doing it the old-fashioned way. Regardless, if you're eligible to itemize, you definitely want to make sure you get full credit, so make sure not to miss out on any possible deductions."