Cash may represent the bulk of your charitable giving, but the used jeans and T-shirts you brought to the neighborhood church sale can add to your tax savings, too. 

If you keep track of your donations and keep all of your receipts, your itemized deductions can really add up. About 30 percent of taxpayers itemize their taxes, claiming an average of $27,447, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Notably, a growing percentage of that sum is due to donations made to charities. The value of itemized charitable contributions from individuals rose 8.2 percent to $210.6 billion in 2014, from one year earlier, the latest year for which IRS data is available.

If you plan on itemizing your deductions, make sure you value your donations correctly. Here's what to keep in mind so that you can get the maximum tax deduction for 2016.  

• Donate to an IRS-qualified charity. The organization you donated to must be an IRS-qualified charitable organization in order for your gift to count toward a tax deduction. If you're not sure about the charity, look it up using the IRS's Exempt Organizations Select Check.

• Don't overestimate the value of your donations. When coming up with a value, consider the item's age and quality. The IRS says that the fair-market value of used clothing and household goods is the price that buyers would pay for them in a consignment or thrift shop. Keep in mind that for a tax deduction, the IRS allows taxpayers to report only donated items that were of good quality or higher when they were donated.

• Use valuation tools. Some charities provide valuation guides on their websites to help you figure out how big a tax deduction you should claim. You also can use tax software to value donated goods. When we judged the tools provided by the top three online tax-prep software brands—H&R Block, TaxAct, and TurboTax—we found that TaxAct gave the most generous valuations for 17 randomly selected items. 

• Keep your receipts. The charity may have itemized the donations, or you may have made a list of what you gave. In either case, keep the receipts with your tax records in case you're audited.

Different rules apply, depending on the value of your gifts. If you claim a tax deduction for a noncash contribution worth less than $250, the written acknowledgment from the charity should include its name, the date and location of your donation, and a description of the item or items given.

If the value of your donation falls between $250 and $500, the acknowledgment must also say whether you received goods or services in return (and if you did, an estimate of the value). For example, if you paid to go to a fundraising dinner, a portion of that might be the value of the dinner.

• Consider various options to value a car sold into salvage. If you donated a car that ended up in salvage, you'll typically get a receipt from the charity that says the car's value was worth $500 or less but doesn't get more specific than that. If you want a precise valuation, there are a number of ways that you can estimate the car's value and report that on your tax return.

Larger Donations

The more generous you are, the more paperwork you’ll have to fill out. If your gift is worth more than $500, you must fill out and attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to your tax return. For donations valued at more than $5,000, you must have on hand an appraisal of your gift. (Only in special instances—say, you donated art valued at $20,000 or more—do you need to submit a signed appraisal to the IRS with your return.) You can deduct the cost of the appraisal if the total of all your miscellaneous itemized deductions exceeds 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

For more information about donations of all kinds, check out IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions