On 2/28/17 8:51 AM, Skelley, Paul wrote:
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Seems we’ve started discussing this topic early this year. On a few points I must disagree and clear up some confusion. In the US (unless the laws have changed),  

1)      For donations with an estimated value claimed by the donor to be under $5000, no independent appraiser is required by IRS.  If the estimated value is over $5000, an independent appraiser is required by IRS  and an IRS 8283 form filed.

2)      Checking dealer prices is only one way to determine if there is a market for specimens! Have any of you ever been to the insect fairs in Europe?  Everything has a market value, even unmounted and unidentified materials.

3)      “…the cost of the pin may be counted”. True. If you had receipts for such supplies or what you paid for the specimens, you could use that value also.


I will confirm everything Paul says, and add one note for US members of the list: I am aware of only ONE price catalog that lists and gives a value for all insects of all orders and families, from earwigs to psychodids to mymarids to lice - the BioQuip specimen catalog, at

There is no insect in this catalog that costs less than $3, so if you donate more than 1666 specimens in a year, you will exceed the $5000 cutoff for a non-appraised donation.

Unless your donation is smaller than 1666 specimens, therefore, there is no point in trying to look up the prices species by species, or trying to factor in pins or other costs. I recommend to simply claim $4999, and state on Form 8283 that you are claiming less than the fair market value of donated specimens (that way, you stay below the 5K cap and avoid an appraisal). The IRS, in my experience, has no issue with people claiming smaller deductions than they are entitled to.

Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82