Turn Your Old Computer Into a Charitable Donation

If a new computer is on your wish list this holiday, you might think about donating your old model to charity.

Making a noncash computer donation allows you to reclaim some value from older electronic equipment and take a deduction on your income taxes. But like other noncash donations, giving up your computer isn't as easy as hauling your hardware to the nearest Goodwill.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

Before you donate, assess the value of your computer. You can find the value by checking Internet auction Web sites or even computer manufacturer Web sites. You can also pay $4 for an appraisal by Orion Blue Book (search), an industry authority on market values, at http://OrionBlueBook.com

Deductions are valid only for gifts to a recognized charity, meaning it has IRS approval to register as a tax-exempt organization. Before you donate, check out the charity at http://www.CharityNavigator.com

You might also check out The Used Computer Mall at http://www.UsedComputer.com. The Web site lists charities that accept new or used computer equipment. It also provides recycling guidelines in case your computer is a real dinosaur -- too old to go anywhere but the recycling bin.

Remember to erase all the files from your computer's hard drive before you donate. At best, others will laugh at the poetry and e-mails you saved. At worst, you could be a victim of identity theft. Look for so-called disk-cleaning software, which will clear your computer's hard drive.

Be sure to get a receipt for your donation from the charity. You'll need it to take the deduction come tax time.