Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Money Earned at My Garage Sale?

From time to time you may find yourself needing to clean out the house. You may discover that you have more stuff than you care to own. One of the most common things to do with used stuff is to have a yard or garage sale. You gather all of your no longer wanted items, and price things based upon what you deem them to be worth. You set up your tables and racks in your yard or garage and before long you find yourself selling those unwanted things to would be bargain hunters.

Do I have to pay taxes for my garage sale? | #taxes #bookkeeping

Have you ever wondered though, if the money you take in is taxable income?

On any given weekend in the U.S. communities and neighborhood streets are filled with used clothing, furniture, knickknacks and other items. Rummage sales can be either a way to make a little cash or a way to de-clutter, or both. One thing is sure, it’s a popular method of doing second-hand sales.

Whether or not you have to pay taxes, of any sort, on monies earned through these garage, yard and rummage sales depends upon the purpose and method of your sale.

If you paid more for the item than the price in which you re-sell the item(s), then sales are not report-able as either income or for sales tax purposes. But it should be noted that losses on personally used items or property are not deductible either.

A Garage Sale Example

Let’s say you purchased a coffee maker for $49.99. For a couple of years you used that coffee maker each day to make your cup of joe. Then you decide to sell the coffee maker in favor of a more modern single brew station. You place the coffee maker in your garage sale for $10 and negotiate the sale down to $5. Essentially, you’ve sold your used item for less than the cost of your coffee pot. Therefore, you do not need to pay any income tax on the sale of the coffee pot because you haven’t earned a profit from the sale. Likewise, because the item was for your personal use you can’t claim a loss of profit because you as the consumer used the item.

Selling Items to Earn a Profit

An exception to this re-sale rule is when you purchase items at rummage, garage, yard or other types of sales with the intent and express purpose of re-selling the items at a higher amount than what you paid for the item. This type of selling isn’t about re-selling personally used items, but rather is intended to earn the seller a profit, small though it may be.  The same is true regardless of where you sell the items, whether in your front yard, on the internet or at the local flea market.

The laws regarding sales tax vary from state to state and . It’s always a good idea to check with your state’s department of taxation as well as local ordinances regarding sales tax collection on goods sold at garage, yard, or rummage sales.

Learn more about how to manage your documents for small businesses specializing in the resale of items at

Still have questions? Contact us for assistance.

This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. Cowdery Tax and its representatives does not offer legal or tax advice. We offer services for business bookkeeping, payroll, tax payments, and personal tax filings. We share information that is publicly available. Tax laws may change with or without notice that may alter or change the information contained in this publication.