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ECN-L  January 2016, Week 3

ECN-L January 2016, Week 3

Subject:

Collection Donations and Appraisals for Tax Purposes

From:

Andy Boring <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Andy Boring <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 19 Jan 2016 13:51:28 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (76 lines)

Hello Everyone,

I have a few direct resources for information on Collection Donations
and Tax deductions.  These are IRS publications, but they are actually
pretty strait-forward and have plenty of examples.

Tips on deducting charitable contributions:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Tips-on-Deducting-Charitable-Contributions

Determining the value of donated property:

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p561.pdf

In determining the value, you should pay attention to how you want to
determine "fair market value" and I would use the donation of
Collections (page 5) as a general guideline.

Also, know that non-cash donations over $500 to a single organization
will require the DONOR to file form 8283 with their annual tax return.
(yes, if you donate to goodwill and claim over $500, you should be
filing this form though it is generally used as a safeguard against
people abusing the system).  If your accountant is on the up-and-up,
they will ask you for documentation to verify this.

Please understand that it is very easy to identify potential fraud,
and claims in excess of $499 to a single organization are easily red
flagged.  On a United States Federal Tax Return, large claims for
charitable contributions can delay your refund significantly.  This
alone is a reason people may want to agree that the value of the
donation is less than $500.

In my own personal opinion, it is easy to justify the value of a small
donation to be somewhere less than $500.  If they do itemize their
deductions, a donation of $500 typically saves them about $45 of taxes
(50% of $500 times a 15-19% effective tax rate).  From my personal
experience, I have never had an issue justifying a claim less than
$500 to a legitimate charitable organization.

Donations that are in excess of $500 in value would need
justification.  These instances would probably include equipment in
the donation.  The added value of the donated equipment can be
determined more easily.  If you can find similarly used items for
sale, print the advertisement, listing, ect. and have the donor keep
this for their records.  I could easily see the donation of a used
insect cabinet with drawers be valued at ~$500 for the specimens and
$2000 for the cabinet & drawers, for a total of $2500.  This would
save someone around $237 in taxes.

I personally think that it could be difficult to justify the value of
an insect collection that is housed in cigar boxes to be worth more
than $500.  I think that the grey area would be when a donor would
want to justify the value of the insect specimens to be greater than
$500.  At that point, I would personally recommend kindly asking the
donor to have the specimens appraised.  If it is a valuable insect
collection, you don't want to turn the donor away on these grounds.
It would be terrible to lose valuable collections because of
difficulties appraising specimens.

Is this something that ECN'rs encounter frequently enough that we
ought to develop guidelines or standards for determining fair market
value of specimens, or at least have a printed outline of how this
works?  I ask this as ECN treasurer; if this is common problem I can
help get make it manageable.

I need to make a disclaimer here.  The information above is for
entertainment purposes only, and can not be used as legal
justification in any court of law.  I am not a tax expert, and the
statements above are not necessarily correct.  Do not use this for
anything other than personal reading.  Please consult a Certified
Public Accountant before proceeding with any of the recommendations or
advice provided.  You get the point?

Thanks for reading all this,
Andy

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