Sunday, February 12, 2006

I want my money back!

Every year for at least the last 10, I’ve used TurboTax to do our taxes. And each year, we’ve spent at least a few hours going through the dozen or more Goodwill receipts to try and figure out the value of what we donated in the past year. When done, TurboTax would cast a wary eye our way, and say, “And how did you determine the value of these goods?”

“Uh, market value,” we’d check. And hope that TurboTax didn’t second-guess us.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the deductions portion of our return today, and TurboTax told me to use “ItsDeductible” to catalog our donations. (Apparently Intuit doesn’t believe in possessive apostrophes.) In years past, ItsDeductible has always been a for-pay add-on to TurboTax, and I never thought it would be worthwhile. This year it was bundled with TurboTax, and it’s now clear that our notion of “market value” and actual “market value” are way off. And that means that I’ve significantly overpaid our taxes for the last 10 years. sigh

Its Deductible is really slick: fortunately we kept a list of everything we gave to Goodwill, so all we needed to do was type in a line item; ItsDeductible searches an archive of eBay auction data to determine average market value for each item. Without exception, things we would’ve said were worth $1 were often worth $4, $6 or even $10 according to ItsDeductible. From its FAQ:

Using its patent-pending Intelligent Indexing™, the TurboTax® ItsDeductible® program has organized and compiled pricing data based on extensive research of resale outlets as well as recent market data from eBay®. The eBay Data Licensing Program provides ItsDeductible with daily feeds of closed live auction transaction pricing information allowing ItsDeductible software to include thousands more valuations for items that go beyond the most commonly donated items.

Just a great example of using community data to help me do my job. It’s very easy to use, and saved a couple hours worth of work. Most importantly, it likely resulted in adding $500 to our refund. Which makes me think that I’d have an HDTV in the basement if only I’d used ItsDeductible for the last few years… ;)


  1. It was even worth the $20 it cost last year. Really. But, free is better.

  2. That's great if you use TurboTax but I don't. I fished around for another stand-alone program and found ( Same idea as ItsDeductible but more condition levels and I'm not locked into using TurboTax. It's about 20 bucks which I paid for in the first 10 minutes of time on the website with my tax savings. I saved $1000 last year!