ItsDeductible vs DeductionPro for Valuing Donations

clothes

If you donate clothing and other household items to places like Salvation Army or Goodwill, the tax law says you can deduct the fair market value of your donated items. The IRS places the responsibility for coming up with a fair market value on you, the taxpayer. The places that accept your non-cash donations only give you a receipt for what you donated. They don’t tell you how much the items are worth.

If you use the standard deduction, you don’t have this headache. Charitable donations are included in the standard deduction. You don’t have to separately track and value your donations. If you use itemized deductions because you have more deductions than what the standard deduction allows (state income tax, mortgage interest, property tax, etc.), or because you are subject to the AMT, you must estimate the value for your donations.

The two major tax preparation software TurboTax and TaxCut both bundle a deduction estimate module that attempt to solve this problem. The program for TurboTax is called ItsDeductible. The one for TaxCut is called DeductionPro. They both do pretty much the same thing: they put an estimated value on your donated stuff based on price information they gathered from various sources. When you say you donated a sweater, they tell you how much it’s worth.

Most people probably don’t realize you can use these programs online completely free of charge. You don’t have to use the associated tax software by the same vendor. You can mix and match if you want. It’s just fine if you use ItsDeductible with TaxCut or use DeductionPro with TurboTax. You can use either program even if you use TaxACT or do your taxes with pen and paper. Both programs ask you to register but you don’t have to give your real name or address. Here are the links:

Do they give the same values for the same items? No. I tested with a hypothetical list of items (all in medium/average quality) and here’s what they came up with:

  ItsDeductible DeductionPro
a pullover sweater $9 $4.42
a pair of adult athletic shoes $11 $4.37
an adult short winter coat $17 $10.51
a 20″ tube color TV $18 $23.56
a 17″ CRT monitor $9 $15.45
Total $64 $58.31

For the test batch, ItsDeductible gave a higher value. It may be the opposite for your items. If you donated a lot of stuff, I don’t see why you can’t enter them into both programs and see which one gives you a higher value. In terms of usability, I like DeductionPro better. After you are done entering your donations in DeductionPro, you can print an itemized list of what you donated and the value of each item. In ItsDeductible, you can also print an itemized list but the list doesn’t include the value for any item. Or you can print a summary of the total value for your donations, but without itemization. It’s weird. I don’t know why ItsDeductible does it that way.

These programs are meant to be used throughout the year. As soon as you make a donation, you enter it into the program. That way you don’t forget about what you donated. While the value estimates are not perfect, using the values provided by these programs probably beats pulling a wild guess out of air.

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Comments

  1. Jim says

    The charities around here won’t touch a CRT monitor or TV with a ten-foot pole, other than a high school that wanted large-screen TVs for classroom use. Maybe you should be allowed to deduct the fee that you pay to have them recycled.

  2. James says

    Wow, I have no idea that the stuff can have decent deduction value. In the past, we donated bags and bags of stuff and we never bother to keep detail records of what we donate so we always low-balled the value at tax time to avoid red-flaged the auditors. Thanks for bringing this up.

  3. Grant says

    We’ve used ItsDeductible the past few years and have been happy with it. Maybe I’ll try DeductionPro this year for comparison…

    @James – I know what you mean! Who knew the value could be so high? But the government doesn’t give you the full value anyway. I think when we’ve submitted the values as determined by ItsDeductible, we get about a quarter of that back in our return.

  4. Michael says

    ItsDeductable will print an itimized list with values. Here is the catch — the “free” online version does not have full functionality. You have got to get TurboTax deluxe or better.

    As the ItsDeductable online site clearly indicates, values are only “estimates” until you download into TurboTax. At that point it adjusts for current pricing. I don’t use the online, so can’t say if there is really much change on pricing or if this is just gimmick.

    This is the first year I’m using TaxCut instead of TurboTax (strictly a price decision, since TurboTax has gotten quite expensive). I find the included version of DeductionPro to be much more difficult to use. I actually ended up going to last year’s TurboTax to use ItsDeductable from there.

  5. jozie says

    can anyone answer this? in the process of going through my donations-which throughout the year were many, I decided to try to print. I used Its Deductible, to try to compare what I would end up with as a total, becuase I have already done a very detailed valuation from the Salvation Army’s own donation valuation guide on their website.
    Anyhow, after setting up to print my donations in turbo tax’s its deductible, I previewed first. I noticed there were several sections, one of them stating, “where aquired”, “when aquired” and “allowable”. I was slightly disgusted and am now wondering if after painstakingly entering all of this stuff in, as not only did I have two kids these past 2 years, but now my spouse and I are moving, so lots of stuff donated, but I am wondering if the IRS is going to only allow donations that WE ourselves originally purchased. I have been given MANY MANY things from family and extended family and friends. I have not used much and kept everything in top quality shape. I documented each item and photographed for my own records in case of an audit, along with photocopying the salvation army or goodwill receits- but could my total value donations be rejected because I myself don’t have original purchase receits?? Please let me know I wont continue with the hassle even though this could have a huge benefit for my family since we are living on one-income. thanks!

  6. Steve says

    Jozie -

    When you are given stuff you acquire the giver’s basis. In other words, they effectively transfer to you the “how much” and “when” of whatever they give you.

    That said, the IRS knows people usually can’t dig up receipts. And they don’t require it. Obviously you had it to donate, and it cost more than thrift shop value to acquire new. Ballparks are allowed. If you take your thrift shop donation value total for each donation, triple it and round to the nearest ten or hundred for your basis, you’ll be fine (for example, $833 of thrift shop value becomes $2,400 of approximate purchase cost, $159 of thrift shop value becomes $480, or maybe $500). What you want to avoid is taking a number like $833 or $155 and translating it to $2.499 or $477, since exact amounts like that indicate “real” costs vs estimates. Real costs have to be exactly defended in the unlikely event of an audit, estimates obviously can’t be.

  7. RAS says

    Deduction Pro is a HUGE waste of time. I spent hours putting in items, saving about every half hour. Even changed the file names every couple hours. Now everything is LOST, each file opens up empty.

    Save yourself a lot of grief, use something else, or just a pad of paper or a spreadsheet.

  8. Robert says

    Deduction Pro used to be a PC based production free with the H&R Tax Software, now called, At Home.

    As PC software, it provided some labor saving tools, inluding fair market value for clothing donations.

    Starting 2011, the product was web based. Now it got clumsier to use: start the internet, locate the file, accept the file, etc. it took a minute or two just to get started. In August, when I was using the web based version, something crashed (IE8, Deduction Pro, not sure), my PC based Deduction Pro file was trashed. I had a backup, but it was a month old. It took me a hour to reconsruct the file.

    In December 2011, the Deduction Pro web page was unavailable for 15 plus days while they got ready for the new version, so I could not put in deductions during that time period. When the new version was ready, I imported 2011 data. It TOTALLY screwed up my non cash donations: Much higher values were used. I called H&R Block about the problem – nothing happened. I manually fixed it, by reentering the information.

    When I went to enter new cash donations, it got worse!!! First it didn’t bring up the current date, requiring you to go through the calender for each donation.

    But the real big problem was it started to create duplicates of entries. Each new donation, and file doubled in size and donations.

    Bottom line, if the PC version Deduction Pro saved me a couple of hours a year when preparing my tax return, I spent over 8 hours this year in fixing the web based version file.

    I am not using this software again. I can create a simple spread sheet to record my deductions, and place those values into my tax return. If I need to look at the fair market value, I will just print off the values and put the sum in my spread sheet.

    Shame on H&R Block for screwing up a good product. I still use the At Home for my personal and business tax returns.

  9. Carlos Bendiks says

    I agree with almost all the previous comments re: DeductionPro (DP). I used it for the years 2008 & 2009 when it was downloadable into my PC and it worked fine. With TaxCut 2010 it became a web-based product and it was a nightmare to use! I then reverted back to the 2009 version, entered all my data then printed it out and manually entered the required totals into the IRS schedules in TaxCut 2010. Thus one has a detailed record to back up one’s return.
    I received the HR Block (TaxCut) 2011 in the mail. I tried to purchase it online but it was very confusing & not working properly, so I abandoned that effort. I went to OfficeMax & purchased the Deluxe version (advantage is that one gets a CD and it was sold at a discount!) since it showed the DP unavailable for the cheaper version, Basic, then I find out that it is available online for free! Misleading information on their cover box! However, this version is only on their web-site & I found it very clumsy to use (lost files, not very detailed, etc.).
    I will use the DP 2009 version on my PC and identify the file XXXXX_2011, & print out the data.

  10. Terry Davis says

    I see that I am not the only one with a hugh problem with DeductionPro. This is my first try to use this program in connection with H&R Block Deluxe Tax Program. I entered Deduction Pro from the tax program and set up an account saving the data and disabled the pop-up Blocker as required. I entered about half of the items and saved using the save button and closed out for the night. The next day I attempted to re-enter to add more items using the “Find an Existing Account” and though it says it is saved in my documents, it was nowhere to be found either searching my documents with using “Browse” or doing so by going directly to Documents. Frustrated, I started over and entered new account information and began to enter the items. When I got to the Other category and had entered about half of the items a pop-up appeared and said I could not enter more than 50 items. I was going to delete a couple of the items in the OTHER category and enter them as Miscellaneous so it would be one item and it would not let me back into the category or any other category. It only poped up the notation that I could not enter more than 50 items. Now I am getting really frustrated and called H&R Block locally to find out who to call for help with this program. I was given a number for Deduction Pro Customer Service and called finding that it was H&R Block Bank. I was eventually transferred to a department and the guy who answered said he was a customer service representative but it did not take long to determine that he did not know the program or how to help. He kept asking if there was an edit button. He talked to his supervisor and after 15 minutes of back and forth conversation, he had me save and close out to the H&R Block Program where I could again attempt to open the existing file using Browse and again no file was found and he could not tell me where it was saved and said I would have to start over and enter everything again. I had just spent 4 hours entering the information as my hand written sheets are by box the items were in when picked up, and I had to reorganize the information to Deduction Pro’s organization. Does anyone know of any contact to get information as to how to retrieve the saved file? I am beyond frustrated and don’t look forward to spending another 4 hours only to save it and not be able to find it.

  11. tim says

    If you are looking for your saved file, search for files ending in .d11 or .d10. To do this, press and hold the Windows button and then the letter F (for find). In the search box, type *.d11 and it will find your file. Your version of Windows might work different.

    I agree… DeductionPro 2011 sucks. I may do the spreadsheet thing, too!

  12. Susan Hudson says

    I have used Tax Cut and Deduction Pro for over 10 years. I have always bought the software from Office Depot or Office Max. I tried to find Deduction Pro and had a hard time finding it. After reading all the mess you guys had, I am thinking maybe I will change my tax software to Turbo Tax. My banks all use Turbo Tax & it’s free to use. I haven’t used Turbo Tax for years and wonder if they are a mess also. It’s bad enough that we have to do taxes anyway, but when the tools we use are a wreck, and we have to do our own spread sheets, I’d rather just do it by hand. It seems so much easier than spending hours trying to get the software working correctly. I also have had trouble for a couple of years with Deduction Pro adding double deductions and giving me wonderful deduction amounts that are so much, at least it’s easy to catch, but a nightmare to fix. So, I am glad I found this blog so I won’t even try it this year. Thanks for the Info.

  13. Susan says

    If I use a prior year Deduction Pro, will it give me the same amount of deduction that it would for 2011 Deduction Pro?

  14. Chad H says

    I’m really taken aback this year by Its’ Deductible’s values. The majority of the items in perfect condition are now valued considerably less than medium condition was in last year’s version. I really need the deductions this year and will be giving up hundreds due to the difference. What the heck is going on? There’s no way a $12 meduim quality item is worth $4 in perfect shape this tax season. It’s really flaky. I may have to resort to manual itemization I guess.

  15. Carlos says

    Both programs this year leave a lot to be desired (i.e. “crappy”). Go to the DP and at least you can print out their entire list with more realistic prices. However, don’t waste your time trying to do anything else with this software.

  16. Portia says

    These comments all are fascinating! I’ve used Its Deductible for at least ten years. From the start I bought a new edition each year to load onto my own computer. But starting in 2006 it became only available on-line (and that year there was a cost), and the on-line version wouldn’t show the values assigned to the items. My solution: I’ve just kept the 2005 version on my computer and used it each year. (I figured that items donated in later years would be worth at least as much as the 2005 values.) Before I found this web site I was considering trying DeductionPro, but not now! I’ll just stay with my 7 year old version of Its Deductible — I’ve learned all its “quirks” and how to get out the info I want.

  17. Joel says

    I agree with all above. Deduction Pro was very valuble when it was software based. It is awful on the web. I have used Taxcut/At Home for over 12+ years. My bad experience with
    Deduction Pro this year is enough to make me switch to TurboTax next year.

  18. Judy says

    I purchased the H&R Block Deluxe At Home software, primarily because on the box it says it has Deduction Pro with integrated software. No it doesn’t. Neither did the 2011 version appear anywhere. I worked as a receptionist at two H&R Block offices during the 2011 season and not one Tax Professional had ever heard of DP. Boggles the mind since I used it extensively thru 2010. I couldn’t get a single Tax Pro to tell me how they assess the value of contributed items to Goodwill, etc. Makes me wonder how they can advertise they get the best refunds..if they don’t even have a verifiable program to estimate the value of used goods. Last year in 2011 I ended up using ItsDeductible just to have a list of my contributions, but I still had to enter everything manually into my Block Program. DP was wonderful once upon a time, but even their advertising about it is a lie since it simply does not exist anywhere. If you google it, and click on any of the findings, all that does is take you to a H&R Block site to download the current tax program…without any Deduction Pro. I understand the Salvation Army has a program with amounts for contributed items, and one can use them but you still have to manually enter everything into your tax program for your return.

  19. Anne says

    Judy – the 2012 H&R Block program does have Deduction Pro. Click on Deductions, the click on the link next to ‘clothing donation’. Select a charity, & when you go to enter the value you will be prompted to use Deduction Pro. You can then see all the values for all items.

    Not graceful, but it works.

  20. Steve says

    the 2012 H&R Block program does have a severely stripped down version of Deduction Pro. Their phone center will tell you all facets of Deduction Pro are included with DELUXE – but there is neither the Charitable Contibution nor the Charitable Miles module which had tracked charities from year to year to assist with repeat entries. The forms and worksheets indicate data “from Deduction Pro” but there is nothing under the sheets to feed these form fields. SHAME ON YOU HR BLOCK!! Just lost another customer!

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