Hey Lifehacker, I often shop at op shops to get the most bang for my buck. I'm filling in my tax return, and a mate says that all my op shop purchase can be claimed as charitable donations, regardless of what they were for. Is there any truth to that? Thanks, Opportunity Knocks
Picture: David Jackmanson
Shopping at op shops is a fine way to save money, but it won't give you any benefit when it comes to your tax return. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) makes it very clear that any funds going to a charitable organisation can't be claimed as a deduction if you receive anything substantial in return. here's the relevant passage on the ATO site:
The gift must truly be a gift. A gift is voluntary transfer of money or property that you receive no material benefit or advantage for.
That applies whether what you receive is a T-shirt, a lottery ticket or a cheap piece of furniture. You can only claim a deduction if you have made a genuine donation and received nothing "material" in return. Shopping at an op shop absolutely doesn't qualify.
Update for the commenters: the one exception is charity pins, which are not counted as a "material benefit" because it is "an item of insubstantial value that cannot be put to a use or is not marketable". So you can claim for those.
I suspect your mate has been confused by tax laws in the US, where under some circumstances donations to charity shops can be offset against your taxable income (note this involves giving stuff to them, not purchasing from them). Regardless, it simply isn't the case in Australia that op shop purchases will score you a tax deduction. Enjoy the savings (and the fact your expenditure will help others), and accept that cutting your tax isn't one of the extra advantages this time around.
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