As Lynn, said, this has ben a perennial issue with ECN. Years ago, we had a chap come to the meeting from the IRS who told us that generic forms like the Canadian one, with “objective" per-specimen values are not acceptable, and that the only legitimate
monetary value for a collection was actual fair market value, if it was
actually bought and sold on the open market (or could be assessed based on a comparable collection’s FMV). This obviously would vary depending on the rarity, beauty, diversity, exoticness(?), and other subjective values that differ from one collection
to another. Junk from a light trap in my back yard is not worth as much as specimens from some remote and inaccessible place in the jungle; butterflies are worth more than teeny flies, wasps or beetles (sorry, folks, but it’s true – nobody ever put a plexiglass
box of psychodids on display in their living room). For our friends abroad, perhaps the tax rules are more lenient, but in the US, these sorts of formulaic spreadsheets do not have legal standing and certainly do not “ensure that the collection is fairly evaluated
and given a fair market value” (as the AAFC form states).
Furthermore, generally speaking, there is an obvious conflict of interest if someone from the collection to which the specimens are being donated provides the estimate of how much the collection might be worth. Employees of public institutions should
generally avoid this unsavory kind of activity, just as professional entomologists working in public museums should avoid having personal collections. In my opinion, it is regrettable that biological collections get monetized in this way at all, as it adds
an avaricious taint to the pure scientific and/or esthetic pleasure that one gains from building a collection.
Professor Andrew V. Z. Brower
Evolution and Ecology Group
Dept. of Biology, Box 60
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
We’ve been using this handy form from the Canadian National Collection to process our donations.
Curator, J. B. Wallis / R. E. Roughley Museum of Entomology
University of Manitoba
Department of Entomology
12 Dafoe Rd., Animal Science/Entomology Bldg. Rm. 213
Winnipeg, MB, Canada