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Best Bets Daily: Thursday

Tax Break

Posted February 9, 2006
If you occasionally donate bags of stuff—old clothes, books, CDs, etc.—to charities, chances are you've been ripping yourself off. That's because most people underestimate the tax-deductible value of their old junk, or don't even bother at all to make note of their donations. Intuit, the maker of Quicken, used to make software called ItsDeductible to help you keep track, but it just turned that product into a new Web-based service that requires no installation and works on both Macs and PCs. You sign up for it (it costs twenty bucks for the year if purchased on its own, or it's free if you buy Intuit's TurboTax software package) and then you can go online anytime to log and instantly determine the value of the stuff you're donating; the information is then saved to your password-protected account for future reference. The cool thing about this product residing on the Web is that it automatically uses the eBay database of past sales to determine the real market value of used items. (A bag of used clothing can easily add up to $100 or more of tax-deductible value.) ItsDeductible also does paperwork for you, including the official IRS form you’ll need when filing your 2006 taxes. Gradually put a little effort into clearing out your closets over the course of this year, and you could end up saving a ton on your taxes next year.

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