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Harvard University Archives
Donating Materials: Tax Benefits and Appraisals
 
 

Tax Benefits and Appraisals

 

In certain circumstances, donations may qualify as tax-deductible, entitling donors to an income tax deduction by claiming a gift as a charitable donation.  Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility.

 
 
 

How can I receive a tax deduction for my donation?

 

To claim a deduction for non-cash gifts in excess of $500 within a calendar year, a donor must file IRS Form 8283.

A formal appraisal, performed no more than sixty days before or after the date of the gift, is required by the Internal Revenue Service if deductions are sought for any gift valued at over $5,000.  A copy of the formal appraisal and IRS Form 8283 should be submitted to the Archives after the appraisal is completed.  The Archives will send an acknowledgement of the donation to the donor for inclusion in a donor’s tax paperwork.

For charitable contributions appraisals, appraisers must charge a fee for the work involved in calculating an appraised value.  A donation appraisal requires extensive research of the history of a collection or item, including biographies, bibliographies and auction and retails sales records, as well as a detailed description of the collection or item itself. 

     
     

    Can the Archives appraise my collection for a tax deduction?

     

    By law, Archives staff cannot give tax advice or appraise the monetary value of a collection.

    To qualify as acceptable for income tax use, the appraisal must be performed by an objective, qualified appraiser, unconnected with either the donor or the institution, hired for this purpose by the donor.  While the Archives can help facilitate access to the collection material at the Archives, it is the donor's responsibility to arrange for and bear the cost of any appraisal.

       
       

      How do I find an appraiser?

       

      For local appraisals, the Archives can provide a list of individuals in New England who have performed appraisals for past donors.  The Archives cannot, however, recommend a specific appraiser to a donor.

      If you need to find an appraiser outside of the New England area, we would recommend contacting the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), the Appraiser's Association of America (AAA) and/or the Appraisal Foundation (AF).  While membership in any or all of these organizations does not guarantee professionalism, it does indicate that the appraiser is familiar with and adheres to certain standards of conduct.

      Professional appraisers are bound by the Internal Revenue Service code with respect to anything related to taxes.  Make sure the appraiser is familiar with IRS revenue codes.  Also note, for charitable contribution appraisals, the appraiser cannot be the dealer who sold the material.