IRS Publication 561: Determining The Value Of Donated Property

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DEFINITION of 'IRS Publication 561: Determining The Value Of Donated Property'

A document published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that provides taxpayers with information on how to determine the fair market value (FMV) or appraisal value for property donated to a qualified organization. Taxpayers can donate a wide variety of property, including used clothing, art, real estate, securities, patents and business inventory.


Certain donated items, such as pieces of art, may be valued higher than others and allow the taxpayer to claim a much higher deduction than usual. These items may carry extra reporting requirements, such as photographs and a qualified appraisal letter.

BREAKING DOWN 'IRS Publication 561: Determining The Value Of Donated Property'

Determining the fair market value of an item or piece of property can be difficult because there is no single (or simple) way in which it is set. A good indicator of the fair market value is the price the item or property fetches when sold by the organization the donor gave it to. Another method is to compare the price of the item to the sales price of a similar item.


IRS Publication 561 does not provide donors with information on how to determine the amount of a donation that can be deducted, what records the donor should keep or how to substantiate the appraisal claim. More information on those matters are available in IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

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