Year-End Donations Can Pay Off in April

New Year's Eve is the last day you can make a donation and get a tax deduction on your 2010 return, as long as you follow the rules.

The Dallas Goodwill Donation Center at Mockingbird Lane and Abrams Road has seen a steady stream of traffic from people dropping off items that have been collecting dust. The end of December is the most popular time of the year for people to clear out their closets and attics.

Folks want their unwanted belongings to go to a good home, but some people also want something back from Uncle Sam. And they can get it come April, as long as they keep a receipt from the charity as proof of the donation.

Cash donations are easy to calculate, but when it comes to merchandise, give it the garage sale value. Unless the item is like new, it's probably not worth even half of its original price, according to financial adviser Clark Hodges.

"When you do a garage sale, you usually have a little higher opinion of your stuff, but by the time the garage sale is over, somebody probably bought that for cheaper than what you thought. So I would be pretty conservative," he said.

For every $1,000 in non-cash donations you make, you can expect $200-350 in deductions from the IRS, according to Hodges.

If you've texted a donation to charity this year, be sure to save your cell phone bill as proof.

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