How can I donate a large collection of law books and claim them on my taxes?

by Susan E. S. Howe, CPA | May 15, 2018

I have more than 3,000 law books that are in excellent condition and are pretty current. They include a full series of Federal Roster and about nine other full-volume series. I am trying to donate them and claim them on my taxes. How can I do that? Based on a $5 per book value, it would be close to a $20,000 donation.

Deductions for charitable contribution of property are based on fair market value at the time of the contribution. For any contribution of property over $5,000, an appraisal is necessary unless it's stock traded on a public exchange.
The first step is to find an organization that is registered as a qualified charity under the Internal Revenue Code that will accept the donation. The organization can tell you if that's the case.

Then the books should be appraised prior to donating them. There are companies that will appraise the books for a fee. Of course, the cost to appraise the books will reduce the benefit of the contribution, so this is something you should weigh against the tax benefit of the contribution.

For more resources, check out PICPA’s Money & Life Tips, Ask a CPA, or CPA Locator.

Answered by: Susan E. S. Howe, CPA, is principal of Howe Advisory in Strafford, Pa.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
Financial FAQs

Search the most frequently asked finance and accounting questions and read the responses from PICPA members. Always consult a CPA before taking action.