When my husband and I sold our home recently, we gave a lot of household items, including antiques and furniture, to a church. I made an itemized list of the donations. The minister said to assign a value of what I considered appropriate to each item and he would give me a receipt that I could use on my taxes. I mailed him my list in December and I have not yet received my receipt. He keeps putting me off. And he has been disrespectful by referring to me as "Mamma" in one of his texts. What do you recommend? We do not file our tax deductions without the appropriate receipts.
Assuming that you didn’t get any goods or services in return for your gift, the charity has no legal obligation to provide you with a receipt for the gift, although as a matter of good donor relations almost all of them do provide an acknowledgment. If you are going to claim a contribution deduction of $250 or more, you need to obtain a “contemporaneous” receipt to justify your deduction, but the burden is on you, not the charity. Fortunately “contemporaneous” generally means prior to the date you file your tax return, so you still have some time to convince the minister that he really should help you claim the deduction. The IRS has extended the date for individual returns this year until May 15, with the opportunity to obtain an extension until October 15.
For clothing and household goods, you can generally claim a deduction only if the items are in “good used condition or better.” Because of perceived abuses in claims for deductions for gifts of stuff that people were just trying to get rid of, Congress made it significantly more difficult to claim these deductions in the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
Depending on how much you want to claim as a deduction, your itemized letter signed by the minister may not be sufficient. If you want to claim a deduction of more than $500 but not more than $5000, you will have to file a Form 8283 with your tax return claiming the deduction. You will have to tell the IRS when and how you acquired the property, what you paid, your estimate of fair market value and how you determined the value. If you want to claim a deduction of more than $5000 for any single item or group of similar items (i.e. all of the books or all of the furniture), you will need a qualified appraisal to report on the Form.
The charity does not have to agree with the values you claim, but it is required to acknowledge receipt of the items and commit that it will notify the IRS if, within three years of the date of receipt, it sells, exchanges or otherwise disposes of any property claimed to be worth more than $5000 (unless it is utilized in the program of the charity). (See Ready Reference Page: “IRS Requires Substantiation of Contributions”)