Donating Excess Inventory to Charity

May 24, 2016

Getting rid of excess or obsolete inventory can provide much needed warehouse space.  Some businesses may choose to donate excess inventory to charity. However, it is important to be aware of the tax regulations involved in this type of charitable giving.

A donation of inventory to a qualified organization is potentially tax deductible as a charitable contribution. The amount that is deductible is the smaller of the donated inventory’s fair market value on the day it is contributed or its basis.

The basis of contributed inventory is any cost incurred for the inventory in an earlier year the business would otherwise include in its opening inventory for the year of the contribution. The business must remove the amount of the charitable deduction from its opening inventory. It is not part of the cost of goods sold.


If the donated inventory’s cost is not included in opening inventory, the inventory’s basis is zero and the business may not claim a charitable contribution deduction. In this scenario, the business treats the inventory’s cost as it would ordinarily be treated under its method of accounting.

Under a special rule, a C corporation that donates inventory to a qualified charity that will use the donated items for the care of the ill, the needy, or infants may qualify for an enhanced (above-basis) deduction. Similarly, any trade or business that donates food inventory meeting certain standards may qualify for an enhanced deduction.

Categories: Non-Profit, Tax Compliance, Tax Planning