Unexpectedly Intriguing!
April 17, 2012

Since today is Income Tax Day in the United States, the day to which all good American taxpayers aspire to hold out to before paying any more taxes than they have to, we thought we'd look at the charitable donation tax deduction to see if that might be something that makes sense for you.

After all, what if you would have been better off having a garage sale last year, rather than donating all that stuff to charity?

To find out what the benefit is to you where your taxes are concerned, enter the amount of the charitable donations you might claim on your taxes in our tool below and also enter your marginal tax rate, which is the official income tax bracket to which you belong as an American taxpayer. You can find out which bracket that is by seeing where your Adjusted Gross Income (and today, of all days, is the day you actually know what that number is) puts you according to your tax filing status in the table below, which we borrowed from Bargaineering for 2012:

Tax BracketSingleMarried Filing JointlyHead of Household
10% Bracket$0 – $8,700$0 – $17,400$0 – $12,400
15% Bracket$8,701 – $35,350$17,401 – $70,700$12,401 – $47,350
25% Bracket$35,351 – $85,650$70,701 – $142,700$47,351 – $122,300
28% Bracket$85,651 – $178,650$142,701 – $217,450$122,301 – $198,050
33% Bracket$178,651 – $388,350$217,451 – $388,350$198,051 – $388,350
35% Bracket$388,350+$388,350+$388,350+

Now that you know where you stand, enter your numbers in our tool below and we'll tell you how much being charitable pays on your taxes:

Charitable Donation and Tax Data
Input Data Values
Amount Donated to Charity [$]
Your Marginal Tax Bracket [%]
How Much Lower Will Your Taxes Be Because of Your Charitable Donations?
Calculated Results Values
Tax Value of Your Charitable Donations

The results in our tool represent how much lower your federal income taxes are as a result of your charitable donations. If you think you could have picked up more money than that from having a garage sale, or say selling your stuff on craiglist or eBay, after taking the additional time and expense associated with any of these activities, then you know which option will work best for your bottom line next year.

If that turns out to be charity, and you're looking for good causes, here are four that we support, each of which seeks to fill very different needs:

And if you're wondering how much the stuff you might donate to a charity might be worth, the Salvation Army's donation value guide is an invaluable resource.

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