Clients come to you needing different types of assistance with life events be it divorce, death or simply the need to downsize for a myriad of reasons. Inevitably, they may be forced to dispose of treasured possessions due to space limitations or a need for ready cash and they have to part with art, antiques, furniture, clothes and other no longer needed residential contents. Their options may include:
1.Gifting to family or friends
2. Holding a liquidation sale
3. Sending item to auction
4. Making a non-cash charitable donation to a favorite non-profit.
With the secondary market currently very soft in terms of items maintaining value, your clients may feel their best option is the last one – a charitable non-cash donation. When that option is selected, keep in mind the Internal Revenue Service has several requirements that need to be met in order for your clients to receive a tax deduction.
To figure how much they may deduct for such personal property donations, clients must first determine the fair market value on the date of the contribution. There is often a lot of confusion surrounding this term. The IRS definition of Fair Market Value (FMV) is simply the price that property would sell for on the open market. It is “the price that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.”
There is no fixed formula for this type of determination, and many times the donee leaves this up to the donor to determine. An example of this is when you make a donation to a charity and you're given a blank receipt – exactly how are you supposed to fill it out? This is where a Qualified Appraiser can help, but more on that later.
The $500 Threshold
Most of the time, the FMV of used household goods, furniture and clothing is much, much lower than the price paid when new. Such property may actually have little or no market value because of its used or worn condition. It may be out of style or no longer useful. However, the IRS states you cannot take a deduction for household goods or clothing unless they are in “good” used condition or better. If your client still wishes to make a donation, but the items to be donated are not in good condition, they must be made aware that any household goods that are not in good used condition or better for which a deduction of more than $500 is taken, requires a qualified appraisal by a qualified appraiser – so what is that?
Generally, a Qualified Appraisal is a document that is created, signed and dated by a qualified appraiser which requires the following information:
The $5,000 Threshold
For donations of any combination of goods (furniture, a collection of items, designer clothes, accessories, decorative art, etc...) with a FMV of over $5,000, the IRS also requires the donor must obtain a written qualified appraisal from a qualified appraiser, accompanied by IRS form 8283. Keep in mind neither the donor of the property nor the donee organization is considered a “qualified appraiser” for the purpose of valuing the donated property – they are considered “excluded individuals” - so who is qualified appraiser?
A Qualified Appraiser is an individual who meets all the following requirements:
The $50,000 Threshold
On the other end of the spectrum, for donations of art valued at $50,000 or more, your client must request a Statement of Value for that item from the IRS. The statement must be requested before filing the tax return that reports the donation and must include the following:
To help you locate a qualified appraiser for your clients non-cash charitable donation, check the internet for national appraisal associations. Three of the largest are the International Society of Appraisers, the Appraisers Association of America, and the American Society of Appraisers.
Gabrielle Goodman, ISA AM, has been a qualified appraiser for over 15 years, and is the owner of Cleveland Appraisal Consultants (CAC).