Ordinarily, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of property contributed to charity. The FMV is the price in an arm’s-length transaction between a willing buyer and seller. If the property’s value is less than the price you paid for it, your deduction is limited to FMV. In some cases, you must submit an appraisal with your tax return.
Record-keeping requirements vary for noncash contributions, depending on the amount of the deduction. Similar items should be combined to determine the amount of the contribution:
- If the claimed deduction is less than $250, the charitable recipient must give you a receipt that identifies the recipient, the date of the contribution, and provides a detailed description of the property. You should keep a written record with a description of the property, its FMV, and how you determined the FMV, including a copy of any appraisals.
- If the property’s value is between $250 and $500, the requirements are similar. In addition, the recipient must give you a written acknowledgment that describes and values any goods or services provided to you.
- If the value is between $500 and $5,000, your records must describe how the property was obtained, the date it was obtained or created, and the basis of the property.
- If the value is between $5,000 and $500,000, you must obtain a qualified appraisal by a qualified appraiser, retain that appraisal in your records, and attach to your income tax return a completed Form 8283, Section B.
- If you donate property and claim a deduction of more than $500,000, or donated art and deducted $20,000 or more, you must submit a “qualified appraisal” with your tax return.
If total noncash contributions exceed $500, you must fill out Section A of Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions. If the contributions exceed $5,000, you must fill out Section B of the form. Publicly-traded securities must be listed on Section A, even if the value exceeds $5,000.
Form 8283 indicates that an appraisal generally must be submitted for amounts described in Section B. The IRS will deny the deduction if there is no appraisal, unless the failure to get an appraisal was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. If the IRS asks you to file Form 8283, the taxpayer will have 90 days to submit a completed form.
For property over $5,000, the appraiser and the charitable recipient must sign Form 8283. The form advises the recipient to file Form 8282, Donee Information Return, with the IRS and to give a copy to the donor if the property is sold within two years. This is not required if the item (or group of similar items) has a value of $500 or less, or if the property is transferred for a charitable purpose.
You must obtain a “qualified appraisal” no earlier than 60 days before you contributed the property and before the due date of your return, including extensions. If you first report the contribution on an amended return, you must obtain an appraisal before you filed the amended return.
The appraisal must describe the property in detail so that it can be identified; give its condition; provide the date of contribution; describe any restrictions on the use of the property; and identify the appraiser. The appraisal also must provide the appraiser’s qualifications; the date the property was valued; the FMV on the date of contribution; and the valuation method for determining value, including any comparable sales used.
A separate appraisal and a separate Form 8283 are required for each item or group of similar items. Only one appraisal is required for a group of similar items contributed in the same year. If similar items are contributed to more than one recipient and the items’ value exceeds $5,000, a separate Form 8283 must be filed for each recipient.
Here’s an example:
You donate $2,000 of books to College A, $2,500 of books to College B, and $1,000 of books to a public library. A separate Form 8283 must be submitted for each recipient.
Generally, a family member or a party who sold the property to the donor cannot be the appraiser. An appraiser who is regularly used by the donor or recipient must have performed the majority of his or her appraisals for other persons. Form 8283 requires that the appraiser either publicize his (or her) services or else perform appraisals on a regular basis. The appraisal fee cannot be based on a percentage of the appraised property value or of the deduction allowed by the IRS.
Fees that you pay for an appraisal are a miscellaneous itemized deduction and cannot be included in the charitable deduction.