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48 pieces

June 12th, 2016 at 04:18 am

I started out earlier this year thinking I might take a small baby step in donating art, maybe 3 or 4 pieces, and see how that went before committing to more. Maybe I wasn't quite ready to let go of it.

But now I am and I've committed to donating 48 pieces of art (!!) to the nonprofit healthcare facility in my hometown. The doctors and nurses who work there all volunteer their time to provide free healthcare (locally) to those who can't afford it.

Three people came to my home today to see the art, including the doctor who founded the organization. I could tell they weren't really people accustomed to looking at art, but they said they would take it all. They are moving into a 5,000 sf space this fall and have a lot of wall space to fill. They would take it now and keep it in storage until then, and they were open to my helping to "curate" and offer some guidance on how to hang it, grouping what with what, when the time comes, which I might like to do.

I spent considerable time beforehand, not only cleaning my dusty first floor but gathering in the family room all the art I was ready to give them so they could just pick and choose what they wanted in that room. I told them I would be happy if they took it all but indicated they could be more selective, if they wishes. That's when the doctor, after being silent for a moment, said that in addition to the clinic itself, they also have a large conference room where doctors and other healthcare providers meet. Just recently they had some meeting there where doctors from U Mass. came. They want to hang art there, too, and I think mom would be happy and honored by that.

So my donation includes about a dozen tapestries to hang on the wall, some quite large, as well as photography, oil and watercolor painting and my mother's signature "woven paintings."

I found the prices for about three-quarters of the pieces in my mother's price book, and going strictly by what she listed them by, their estimated value is close to $13,000.

I probably won't try to claim a tax credit. Art appraisers aren't cheap, and could cost about $1,000, according to gallery people I spoke to. I'm still inclined to just give this group the art without trying to get any tax break, although I did document all I'm giving them and took pix, just in case.

I don't think I could just claim the $13,000 as a tax credit simply becus that's what my mother valued them at. I mean, people could then place any kind of value they wanted on the art. I think an appraiser would assign a value by carefully looking at past sales of like items, along with my mother's reputation, and that's where it would become a pain for me to try to dig around and find that kind of info.

And if I am truly making a gift of something, a part of me says I should do so freely, with no idea in mind of somehow benefiting from it monetarily.

And I already agreed to let the healthcare facility people come back here this Wednesday to pick everything up. The doctor said they would make a little plaque indicating all the art was made by my mother, which is nice.

I am thrilled to see how relatively empty my family room will look once the art is picked up. And to be perfectly honest, the art I'm donating is the stuff I feel would be difficult to sell, just based on my own subjective opinion that these pieces are not as attractive/marketable as other pieces. I suppose I could spend a lifetime trying to sell them, but I don't see this as my mission beyond another year or two or three at most.

I am keeping the best pieces for myself and will try to sell another group I am a little less attached to.

Today's my road trip with dad down memory lane in New Jersey where my extended family lived. Later this summer, I would like to do the same kind of trip to Philly, where older generations lived.

8 Responses to “48 pieces”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    I think you've made a good decision.

  2. Dido Says:

    If you donated it, donations at valuations greater than $5K are *required* to have an appraisal. If 13K is right, that's $13K x presumed 25% tax bracket = $3,250 - $1,000 cost of appraisal equals 2K lower tax bill BUT art can be tricky--if your mother donated it herself, she would NOT have been able to deduct anything other than the cost of the materials used to create the art, no matter what the valuation, and it is a high-risk audit area, so you are probably right to avoid all the potential hassle.

    Glad your mother's work will be going where it will be visible and used and honored, and that you will be able to reclaim that part of your living quarters.

    Have fun on your daytrip with your dad!

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    Dido, could she value the donation at $4,000 just to get a bit of a tax break?

  4. rob62521 Says:

    How very nice of you to donate.

  5. Dido Says:

    That's a good question, CJ. Artwork is always chancy. The donation rules are that a donor has to be able to substantiate with a "contemporaneous written acknowledgment" any donation over $250, and professional appraisals are needed for over $5,000. On the other side, the organization has to provide a letter for contributions valued over $75 and indicate the value of any goods and services received in return, which would be deducted against the value of the contribution. HOWEVER, this is artwork, and that makes it inherently iffy. There needs to be some guidance as to valuation. Money's value is obvious, and things like clothing and household items have salvage valuation ("sal val") guides that you can download from sites like Goodwill. Artwork is another matter because it is subjective, and the IRS is likely to reject any attempt PS makes to value it herself. If she can back up the value with something like sale prices on pieces of artwork her mother sold, then yes, she might risk taking the donation, but she should be aware that even for a donation under $5k, it is a possible audit ris. If the return were pulled, it would be a correspondence audit and they would send a letter asking for substantiation of value. I'm also a little uncertain because I know that artists THEMSELVES cannot take a charitable donation for their artwork (other than deducting the cost of the materials). No definitive tax advice being provided here--I'd ask another CPA since this is not my area.

  6. PatientSaver Says:

    Thanks, everyone. I had done a quick check on IRS rules so I know about the $5,000 breakpoint and all that.

    I threw so many files out when I cleaned out her condo. I kept a lot of records specific to pieces completed, but not sure I also have details on sell price and daate of sale, for example.

    I suppose I should care about the tax break more, but it just doesn't feel like hugely important.

  7. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    that is so wonderful that they you are donating the art!

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    What a lovely thing you are doing.

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