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I'm retired & getting ready to move to a MUCH smaller residence. One issue is getting rid of hundreds (1000's?) of books of all sorts. The local library will accept most and give me a receipt documenting that I donated "x" number of books.

My question is - What will the IRS accept as a reasonable value for these books? A large number (100's) are paperback novels - e.g., your standard bestsellers - in almost new condition (typical retail of say $6 to $7.50). How much will IRS let me take on a used paperback?

Thanks.
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I'm retired & getting ready to move to a MUCH smaller residence. One issue is getting rid of hundreds (1000's?) of books of all sorts. The local library will accept most and give me a receipt documenting that I donated "x" number of books.

My question is - What will the IRS accept as a reasonable value for these books? A large number (100's) are paperback novels - e.g., your standard bestsellers - in almost new condition (typical retail of say $6 to $7.50). How much will IRS let me take on a used paperback?


When you donate used goods of this nature, you are supposed to establish a value yourself. (More about this in a minute.)

On 1999 Form 1040 Schedule A, line 16 is where you would enter gifts other than by cash or check. If any gift of $250 or more, see page A-4. You MUST attach Form 8283 if over $500

Form 8283 (see www.irs.gov/forms_pubs/forms.html) tells the story pretty well -- the instructions (same site) should answer any additional questions you may have.

If you claim a deduction of more than $5000 for an item or "groups of similar items," you will need to consult a professional appraiser, who will need to sign the form to vouch for the deduction.

If the total deduction for your books is under $5000, you can fill in the information yourself. In column "h", you need to disclose the method you used to determine the fair market value of your donations -- such as, by visiting second-hand book stores or thrift shops and observing the prices at which they sell comparable books (not necessarily the marked prices, if they have regular policies of steep discounts or special discount shopping days).

FYI -- here's an excerpt from the instructions:
Example. You claimed a deduction of $2,000 for books given to College A, $2,500 for books given to College B,and $900 for books given to a public library. You must attach a separate Form 8283 for each donee.

Hope this helps!
Ron (not a tax expert but a frequent submitter of Form 8283)
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Thank you very much for your help.
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<<My question is - What will the IRS accept as a reasonable value for these books? A large number (100's) are paperback novels - e.g., your standard bestsellers - in almost new condition (typical retail of say $6 to $7.50). How much will IRS let me take on a used paperback?>>

You've already received a great response. Just a few things for me to add.

As a rule of thumb, when you are dealing with used books (even though they are close to new) you are looking at 10% to 20% of the original cost. One very good place to "price" these books is at your local used book seller and/or thrift shop.

In fact, if you have a used book seller nearby, you might ask them to give you an "unofficial" appraisal on the books...what HE would sell them for, or what HE would pay your for them. That would go a long way in establishing the FMV of the books.

Additionally, if you are also giving away large amounts of cloting, you might want to check out http://www.taxsave.com

For a small fee ($15 I believe) you can receive a database of FMV prices for used clothing. You might be surprised how much you are potentially undervaluing your contributions of used clothing. So if you are giving a bunch of stuff away, you should easily save the cost of the report in taxes.

TMF Taxes
Roy
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