Appraisals of Used Clothing and Household Items

Appraisals of Used Clothing and Household Items

(by Dave Maloney) This is Post 1 of 3. It, along with two additional posts, will address when qualified appraisals are required, when they must be attached to the taxpayer’s return, and related issues. See Post 2 of 3. See Post 3 of 3.

This article had its genesis in a recent online discussion regarding appraisal assignments for donation purposes, when and when they are not needed, and when taxpayers must attach them to their income tax returns. (When required to do so, attaching qualified appraisals to a return is the responsibility of the taxpayer, of course, and not the appraiser. Having said that, it is good that the appraiser know when their appraisal is and is not required to be attached by the taxpayer/client to his or her return.)

Note that many taxpayers, including myself, are filing their returns online. So, how does the taxpayer attach required documents to an e-filed return? Here is the answer compliments of TurboTax (see for the complete answer to the question “How do you attach a statement to an efiled return?” Interesting stuff.) It states, “In most instances, you can’t, because the IRS has no way to accept them into their database. Form 8453 can be used to attach some documents after e-file.  If one of your documents apply, within 3 days of filing acceptance of your e-file, you should complete Form 8453. The Form is attached [to the document] and mailed to the address listed in the instructions.” Here ( is info about Form 8453 including instructions. Note that our beloved IRS Form 8283 is one of the several Forms permitted to be mailed in using Form 8453 subsequent to efiling.

In this post, let’s talk specifically about donated items of “clothing or household items” that are in “less than good condition” yet still worth in excess of $500. For such items, as noted in the below Pension Protection Act of 2006 Section 1216 citation, the taxpayer must include a “qualified appraisal” with the return. Note the specific definition of what constitutes “household items”. And note what “household items” EXCLUDES – such things as paintings, antiques, objects of art, jewelry.

By the way, does anyone know why the Act would focus on items valued in excess of $500 in LESS than good condition? The only example the attorney who wrote the act could come up with was used cars. (And even then, the amount the car sold for is normally the deductible amount – with a few exceptions in some cases for which a qualified appraisal IS required, but that is a topic for another day. But if you simply cannot wait, see A Charity’s Guide to Car Donations and IRS Pub 526 Charitable Contributions

Before I continue, if you are an appraiser, are you familiar with IRS Pub 561 (Determining the Value of Donated Property) If not, you need to be. Memorize it. It contains information for use by the taxpayer, but it contains a wealth of information appraisers should also know. Same goes for the previously-mentioned IRS Pub 526 (Charitable Contributions)

Here is the citation regarding qualified appraisals and the donation of used clothing and household items. It is this Act that establishes the need for the taxpayer to obtain and attach a “qualified appraisal” to his or her return for donated used clothing and household items valued in excess of $500 but in less than good condition. BTW, note in the below citation that in order for a deduction to be allowed, donated clothing or household items must be in good condition or better. No more deductions for raggedy clothes or dented pots and pans!


Pension Protection Act of 2006 Section 1216: (see page 301)

a) IN GENERAL.—Subsection (f) of section 170, as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:


(A) IN GENERAL.—In the case of an individual, partnership, or corporation, no deduction shall be allowed under subsection (a) for any contribution of clothing or a household item unless such clothing or household item is in good used condition or better.

(B) ITEMS OF MINIMAL VALUE.—Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the Secretary may by regulation deny a deduction under subsection (a) for any contribution of clothing or a household item which has minimal monetary value.

(C) EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN PROPERTY.—Subparagraphs (A) and (B) shall not apply to any contribution of a single item of clothing or a household item for which a deduction of more than $500 is claimed if the taxpayer includes with the taxpayer’s return a qualified appraisal with respect to the property. with respect to the property.

(D) HOUSEHOLD ITEMS.—For purposes of this paragraph—

(i) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘household items’ includes furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances, linens, and other similar items.

(ii) EXCLUDED ITEMS.—Such term does not include—

(I) food,

(II) paintings, antiques, and other objects of art,

(III) jewelry and gems, and

(IV) collections.

(E) SPECIAL RULE FOR PASS-THRU ENTITIES.—In the case of a partnership or S corporation, this paragraph shall be applied at the entity level, except that the deduction shall be denied at the partner or shareholder level.

b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by this section shall apply to contributions made after the date of enactment of this Act.

© David J. Maloney, Jr. 2013

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