basics

If you have made a charitable donation during the tax year, you want to make sure that you claim it on your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows taxpayers to claim charitable donations as tax write-offs. This is an excellent, and legal, way to lower your taxes due come tax day.

In order to claim a donation on your taxes, you must have made the donation to an organization that is eligible for tax deductible donations. This is sometimes referred to as the organization having tax exempt status. Typically all non-profit organizations meets this qualification. And usually all national charities, like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, are eligible for tax deductible donations.

If you have made a donation to a local charity though, you may not know their tax exempt status. Luckily, you can check it out on the IRS website.

It is a good idea to check the charity status (link opens in new window) on the IRS website before you make the donation, in the event that you have chosen a place that is not eligible for tax deductible donations.

If you have made your donation to a charity that is eligible for tax deductible donations, you must itemize your deductions. You have to use Form 1040 when you file your taxes. And you must also fill out Schedule A for the deduction.

Determining FMV

Fair market value, or FMV, is commonly used as the value of donated goods and items.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines fair market value as the price that you would be able to sell an item for in the current market, assuming that the seller is not desperate for the sale and the buyer is not desperate to own the item.

It is safe to say that most of the time the FMV of an item will be considerably lower than the price that was paid for the item. Instances when this may not be true could be with antique cars and real estate.

Determining fair market value of an item depends on what the item is.

There is no set or approved way to determine fair market value. Sometimes you can use a variety of methods and just take the average.

For example, to get the FMV of a car you can check Kelley Blue Book, eBay Motors, Cars.com, local used car lots and your local newspaper classified ads. You can end up with a range of different values from those places. This is when you would just use the average of all of those values as the fair market value of the vehicle.

If you can’t recall how to get the average, just add together all of the value that you have. Then take that number and divide it by the total number of values that you started with. The end result of that calculation is the average.

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Do you have old soccer gear at home? If so, you can donate soccer gear. You can even donate soccer equipment, like training equipment. By donating soccer gear, you can get it to kids that may not have any soccer gear. Or that may be playing with outdated gear, or even gear that is old and no longer good.

Soccer gear can be donated locally, nationally and even internationally.

The first thing you need to do to donate soccer gear is to know what types of things can be donated. Soccer gear that you can donate includes:

  • Soccer shoes
  • Soccer balls
  • Soccer jerseys and shorts
  • Soccer socks
  • Goalie gloves and jerseys
  • Ball bags
  • Duffle bags
  • Training equipment
  • and more!

You need to find a place to make your soccer gear donation. Not all charities accept soccer gear donations. And you want to make sure that you are making your donation to a place that can really use your soccer equipment donation.

Start out on the Passback website from the U.S. Soccer Foundation. You can use that webpage to find organizations in your local area that take soccer gear donations.

Other places where you can make a soccer gear donation include Peace Passers and the Soccer Donation Project.

Before you make your soccer gear donation, check out your gear to make sure it’s clean and in good shape. With soccer balls, make sure that they hold air.

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Are you in a giving mood? You may feel inspired by something you saw online or recently read in a magazine. If you are interested in helping others, there are plenty of ways to donate to charity. Although money is typically helpful for those in need, there are others ways for you to make a contribution.

Donate Your Old Clothes

Do you have some clothes that you have not worn in years? You know you will probably never wear those outfits again, but you have saved them all this time for some unknown reason. If the clothes are just collecting dust, you can do something positive with them by donating them to those who are not as fortunate. There are always adults and children who could use comfortable pants, shirts and jackets to wear.

The American Red Cross would gladly accept your donation of clothing items. Not only can you give them some of your old clothes, you can give them some unwanted toys or additional accessories that you are no longer using, such as belts, purses and jewelry.

Make Your Own Help Bags for the Homeless

There is a major homelessness epidemic going on in the United States. If you are living in a major city, you probably see these people outside all the time, whether they are asking for spare change or holding up signs requesting food because they have no other way to feed themselves. You can help some of the homeless people in your area by handing out help bags.

The best way to create the help bags is to add some basic necessities to each of them. You can buy travel size shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant at cheap prices. Along with a few necessities, you could include several snacks, such as a pack of peanut butter crackers, fruit cups and pudding packs. These small items will mean a lot to the people who are living on the streets and do not have much.

Throw Your Own Food Drive

You do not have to wait for someone else to plan out a food drive. In fact, you can start your own. Begin asking your loved ones for support, even if they can only donate a can of vegetables or a box of instant potatoes. If each person in your life donates at least one food item, you will have plenty of food to donate to the specific charity of your choice.

If you want to donate to a charity, but you do not have a lot of money to offer, these are some of the other options. Donating food, basic necessities and even used clothing are great ways to make a major contribution.

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Charities both locally and nationally accept durable medical equipment donations. Wonder what exactly durable medical equipment is? Durable medical equipment is a term than encompasses many things. Just think about the types of things that would be in use at an assisted living facility. Those things are mostly durable medical equipment. Examples include hospital beds, wheelchairs, blood glucose strips and blood glucose monitors, nebulizers, catheters and more.

If you have some durable medical equipment to donate, it doesn’t have to be new. It can be new, open but not used or used. If you are donating used durable medical equipment, then you MUST make sure that you have all of its accessories – including user manual. You can ask around at your local assisted living facilities and nursing homes for local places to donate durable medical equipment.

Or you get look online at the Operation Giving Back website. Another great place to make your durable medical equipment donation is the Med-Eq website.

Just arrange for a pickup or drop off your donation of durable medical equipment. In rare instances, you may need to ship you durable medical equipment to the charity.

And get that donation receipt for your tax write-off!

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Do you live in the Abilene, Texas area? Are looking for a way to help out people in need but be compensated for your time? You can donate plasma at an area donation center. Donors can make up to two plasma donations each week, as long as there is at least 24 hours between the donations.

After your first donation, which takes a bit longer, you can make a plasma donation in under one hour. Look on the BloodBanker website to locate the plasma donation centers closest to you in Abilene. Some of the donation centers with locations in the area include ZLB Plasma Service and CSL Plasma Service. Contact the plasma donation center to set up your first appointment for plasma donation. You will be asked the pre-screening questions, such as your weight, your age and where you reside.

Arrive at the plasma donation center and check in at the desk. You will be taken in for your brief medical screening and physical exam. This only occurs at your very first visit and is done to ensure you are a good candidate for plasma donation. Your vitals are checked and you must give a complete medical history. This can take up to one hour.

Proceed to the donation area, if everything checks out in the medical screening. There you can be hooked up to the plasmapheresis machine, which is how you give your actual plasma donation. This takes around 45 minutes. The nurse will disconnect you from the machine when you have completed your donation. The nurse walk you over to the refreshment area. You should rehydrate and snack for about 15 minutes.

Stop by the desk on your way out of the donation center to pick up your compensation for making your plasma donation. The amount of compensation you receive varies by donation center and demand for plasma.

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Got some office supplies that you do not need?

Whether you have items from your home office or your business, you do not have to toss out the items that you no longer have a need for. Instead of keeping items you will not use or trashing them, you can choose to donate the items to a needy organization in your area. Office supplies are actually one of the easiest things to donate.

Why?

Because all charities have main offices, where – you guessed it – office supplies are used.

You can donate pretty much any type of office supply item, such as:

  • Pens and pencils
  • Staplers, tape dispensers, tapes, staples
  • Bulletin board
  • Printer paper
  • Floppy disks, blank CDs, USB thumb drives
  • Report binders
  • Folders
  • Paper clips, thumb tacks, binder clips, rubber bands
  • Post-its, notebooks, message pads, tablets
  • any other office supply item

By donating office supply items to charity, you are saving that charity money — money that would have been spent on office supplies.

So, the next time you find some extra paper clips, binders or pencils, call up your favorite charity and ask how to get your donation to them.

basics

The City of Alexandria, VA is located within the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is part of a large metropolitan area known as Northern Virginia or NOVA and lies right outside Washington DC. The city lies on the banks of the Potomac River and has some of the most interesting shopping and dining experiences in the D.C. metro area. Alexandria is fairly small, with a population of less than 160,000. The city’s proximity to Washington DC has shaped much of its character and personality.

Most of those who live in Alexandria work at a job that supports the federal government in some way. Many of its residents work in the federal civil service, are in the U.S. military, or are employed by the one of the numerous private companies which contract with the federal government. The U.S. Department of Defense is one of the largest employers in Alexandria, along with the United States Patent And Trademark Office and the Institute for Defense Analyses.

Old Town Alexandria offers a truly unique shopping experience. The area boasts many boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, and theaters and is a major tourist destination. Most neighborhoods are high income, as well as compact and walkable. Alexandria is an independent city with its own government and services and has the highest average income of any independent city within Virginia.

The city is only 15.5 square miles in total area, including .42 square miles that lie within the waters of the Potomac. The city is bordered on the north and northwest by Arlington County and on the east by the Potomac River. It is bordered on the south by Fairfax County, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. There are several established neighborhoods within Alexandria, including Old Town, Rosemont, Eisenhower Valley, Parker-Gray, The Berg, North Ridge, West End, Alexandria and Del Ray.

The demographics of the city include moe than 68,000 households and 31,000 families. It is a population dense city with 8,500 persons per square mile. According to recent estimates, the median household income was $85,000 and the median income for a family was $105,000. Income for either gender was about equal. About 9 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, including residents age 65 or older. The city is served by Alexandria City Public Schools and is home to some of the finest private schools in Virginia.

The City of Alexandria is a delightful community and a fine place to both visit and live. Great shopping, fine dining, and live performance are also readily available.