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Specimen Donations - Calculating the Proper Tax Write-off

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  • Sam Droege
    All: We have volunteers who collect bees for us and I also collect bees on my own time. These efforts often result in specimens that are given to my lab or
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 6, 2012
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      All:


      We have volunteers who collect bees for us and I also collect bees on my own time.  These efforts often result in specimens that are given to my lab or other non-profit organizations for study or accession into their collections.  As such, they are of value to the recipient and those donations can be written off on the donating persons taxes.  But what should that rate be?  

      I would be interested in getting everyone's particular rates, for the categories below.  You can respond to me off-line and I will compile the results without using any names (and I won't send anything to the IRS!).

      Possible categories

      1.  Specimens collected in alcohol without any determinations
      2.  Specimens pinned and labeled but without determinations.
      3.  A general collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but including all the common species
      4.  A collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but only select rare and uncommon species

      Many thanks.

      sam

                                                     
      Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705
      Http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov

           OUT-OF-DOORS, n. That part of one's environment upon which no government has been able to collect taxes. Chiefly
      useful to inspire poets.
            -Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), "The Devil's Dictionary", 1911
    • Doug Yanega
      ... Having looked into this quite carefully over the years, I can offer a very definitive answer: The IRS form involved in non-cash charitable donations is
      Message 2 of 7 , Feb 6, 2012
      • 0 Attachment
        Re: [beemonitoring] Specimen Donations - Calculating the P
        Sam Wrote:

        We have volunteers who collect bees for us and I also collect bees on my own time.  These efforts often result in specimens that are given to my lab or other non-profit organizations for study or accession into their collections.  As such, they are of value to the recipient and those donations can be written off on the donating persons taxes.  But what should that rate be?  

        I would be interested in getting everyone's particular rates, for the categories below.  You can respond to me off-line and I will compile the results without using any names (and I won't send anything to the IRS!).

        Possible categories

        1.  Specimens collected in alcohol without any determinations
        2.  Specimens pinned and labeled but without determinations.
        3.  A general collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but including all the common species
        4.  A collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but only select rare and uncommon species

        Having looked into this quite carefully over the years, I can offer a very definitive answer:

        The IRS form involved in non-cash charitable donations is Form 8283. Above a net deduction value of US$5000, the IRS will (in cases such as this) *ONLY* accept an estimate submitted by a certified appraiser. You, yourself, cannot supply a figure, either based on your own calculations or prices from independent sources. There is a section on the IRS form requiring the appraiser's signature, no way around it.

        BELOW a net deduction value of US$5000, the IRS will *ONLY* recognize prices established by (1) a certified appraiser or (2) independetnt sources which list the "Fair Market Value" of specimens that are equivalent to those donated. You. yourself, cannot calculate a value for a donation, using any measure you can think of. If you cannot produce a catalog listing for the exact same specimen, then the IRS is not interested in your opinion. To my knowledge, the ONLY independent catalog that can be used for tax purposes for donations of bee specimens is presently the BioQuip catalog.

        If you go to http://www.bioquipbugs.com/Search/WebCatalog.asp?category=1110 you will see the catalog listings for Hymenoptera, and if you click on any of the bee families, you will see that the minimum price for any bee (identified or unidentified) is $3.00 per specimen - and that is the only price the IRS will accept, barring the existence of some other catalog that gives prices for miscellaneous bee specimens (I would be very grateful if anyone can locate another source). Whether a specimen is determined or undetermined, mounted or unmounted, is completely irrelevant unless it appears in the catalog under a different price. There was, in the past, a "pricing guide" of sorts that originated in Florida, which attempted to calculate the values of specimens in the way Sam suggests, but an IRS officer came to one of the ECN conferences several years back and specifically told us that those guidelines were NOT allowable under IRS regulations, and anyone using those guidelines who got audited could expect a very unpleasant surprise.

        A few of you may recall that BioQuip only recently acquired their stock of specimens from the former "Combined Scientific/Insects International" - up until a few years ago, it was the latter company that had the definitive online catalog, at which point any miscellaneous insect was worth $2.00. Evidently, inflation has hit the market in miscellaneous insects. I've personally been using this system for as long as I've been donating insects (I do not maintain a personal collection), and have never once had any problems (I never claim more than $5000, even if I donate twice that amount or more in specimens, which is not uncommon).

        To reiterate: above $5000, you evidently must have a certified appraisal performed. Below that amount, you must demonstrate "fair market value" from an independent pricing guide - and, to my knowledge, there is only one such guide that lists miscellaneous insects, and the price there is a flat $3.00 per specimen. If you're donating exotic butterflies, moths, or beetles, that's a different story entirely, as there are likely to be dozens of sources of prices for such collectibles, with species-specific prices.

        Peace,
        -- 
        

        Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
        Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
        phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
                     http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
          "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
                is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
      • Sam Droege
        Doug Excellent. Many thanks for doing this research and reporting it back to everyone. So, bottom line is that if you are donating specimens to an institute
        Message 3 of 7 , Feb 6, 2012
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          Doug

          Excellent.  Many thanks for doing this research and reporting it back to everyone.

          So, bottom line is that if you are donating specimens to an institute that institute needs to send you some sort of written acknowledgement of those specimens and as long as donations are under $5000.00 you should be listing that contribution at $3.00 per specimen unless prices changes or another catalog lists other prices.  Donating over $5000.00 would likely be worth the headache if you were donating your life's work, but otherwise not.

          sam

                                                         
          Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
          w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
          USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
          BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705
          Http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov

          The death of my poor father
          leaves debts
          and two small houses.

          To settle this estate
          a thousand fees arise—
          I enrich the law.

          Before my own death is certified,
          recorded, final judgement
          judged

          taxes taxed
          I shall own a book
          of old Chinese poems

          and binoculars
          to probe the river
          trees.

                - Lorine Niedecker





          From:Doug Yanega <dyanega@...>
          To:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
          Date:02/06/2012 12:32 PM
          Subject:Re: [beemonitoring] Specimen Donations - Calculating the Proper Tax Write-off
          Sent by:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com





           

          Sam Wrote:


          We have volunteers who collect bees for us and I also collect bees on my own time.  These efforts often result in specimens that are given to my lab or other non-profit organizations for study or accession into their collections.  As such, they are of value to the recipient and those donations can be written off on the donating persons taxes.  But what should that rate be?  

          I would be interested in getting everyone's particular rates, for the categories below.  You can respond to me off-line and I will compile the results without using any names (and I won't send anything to the IRS!).


          Possible categories


          1.  Specimens collected in alcohol without any determinations
          2.  Specimens pinned and labeled but without determinations.
          3.  A general collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but including all the common species

          4.  A collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but only select rare and uncommon species

          Having looked into this quite carefully over the years, I can offer a very definitive answer:

          The IRS form involved in non-cash charitable donations is Form 8283. Above a net deduction value of US$5000, the IRS will (in cases such as this) *ONLY* accept an estimate submitted by a certified appraiser. You, yourself, cannot supply a figure, either based on your own calculations or prices from independent sources. There is a section on the IRS form requiring the appraiser's signature, no way around it.

          BELOW a net deduction value of US$5000, the IRS will *ONLY* recognize prices established by (1) a certified appraiser or (2) independetnt sources which list the "Fair Market Value" of specimens that are equivalent to those donated. You. yourself, cannot calculate a value for a donation, using any measure you can think of. If you cannot produce a catalog listing for the exact same specimen, then the IRS is not interested in your opinion. To my knowledge, the ONLY independent catalog that can be used for tax purposes for donations of bee specimens is presently the BioQuip catalog.

          If you go to http://www.bioquipbugs.com/Search/WebCatalog.asp?category=1110 you will see the catalog listings for Hymenoptera, and if you click on any of the bee families, you will see that the minimum price for any bee (identified or unidentified) is $3.00 per specimen - and that is the only price the IRS will accept, barring the existence of some other catalog that gives prices for miscellaneous bee specimens (I would be very grateful if anyone can locate another source). Whether a specimen is determined or undetermined, mounted or unmounted, is completely irrelevant unless it appears in the catalog under a different price. There was, in the past, a "pricing guide" of sorts that originated in Florida, which attempted to calculate the values of specimens in the way Sam suggests, but an IRS officer came to one of the ECN conferences several years back and specifically told us that those guidelines were NOT allowable under IRS regulations, and anyone using those guidelines who got audited could expect a very unpleasant surprise.

          A few of you may recall that BioQuip only recently acquired their stock of specimens from the former "Combined Scientific/Insects International" - up until a few years ago, it was the latter company that had the definitive online catalog, at which point any miscellaneous insect was worth $2.00. Evidently, inflation has hit the market in miscellaneous insects. I've personally been using this system for as long as I've been donating insects (I do not maintain a personal collection), and have never once had any problems (I never claim more than $5000, even if I donate twice that amount or more in specimens, which is not uncommon).

          To reiterate: above $5000, you evidently must have a certified appraisal performed. Below that amount, you must demonstrate "fair market value" from an independent pricing guide - and, to my knowledge, there is only one such guide that lists miscellaneous insects, and the price there is a flat $3.00 per specimen. If you're donating exotic butterflies, moths, or beetles, that's a different story entirely, as there are likely to be dozens of sources of prices for such collectibles, with species-specific prices.

          Peace,
          --


          Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
          Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
          phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
                     
          http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
           "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
                 is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82



        • David Inouye
          I m not sure the IRS would understand the difference, but I suspect that $3 figure applies to a pinned and labeled specimen, and not per specimen in a batch of
          Message 4 of 7 , Feb 6, 2012
          • 0 Attachment
            I'm not sure the IRS would understand the difference, but I suspect that $3 figure applies to a pinned and labeled specimen, and not per specimen in a batch of 200 in alcohol. 

            David Inouye

            At 02:17 PM 2/6/2012, Sam Droege wrote:
             

            Doug

            Excellent.  Many thanks for doing this research and reporting it back to everyone.

            So, bottom line is that if you are donating specimens to an institute that institute needs to send you some sort of written acknowledgement of those specimens and as long as donations are under $5000.00 you should be listing that contribution at $3.00 per specimen unless prices changes or another catalog lists other prices.  Donating over $5000.00 would likely be worth the headache if you were donating your life's work, but otherwise not.

            sam

                                                          
            Sam Droege  sdroege@...                     
            w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
            USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
            BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705
            Http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov

            The death of my poor father
            leaves debts
            and two small houses.

            To settle this estate
            a thousand fees ariseĀ—
            I enrich the law.

            Before my own death is certified,
            recorded, final judgement
            judged

            taxes taxed
            I shall own a book
            of old Chinese poems

            and binoculars
            to probe the river
            trees.

                  - Lorine Niedecker





            From: Doug Yanega <dyanega@...>
            To: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
            Date: 02/06/2012 12:32 PM
            Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] Specimen Donations - Calculating the Proper Tax Write-off
            Sent by: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com





             

            Sam Wrote:


            We have volunteers who collect bees for us and I also collect bees on my own time.  These efforts often result in specimens that are given to my lab or other non-profit organizations for study or accession into their collections.  As such, they are of value to the recipient and those donations can be written off on the donating persons taxes.  But what should that rate be? 

            I would be interested in getting everyone's particular rates, for the categories below.  You can respond to me off-line and I will compile the results without using any names (and I won't send anything to the IRS!).


            Possible categories


            1.  Specimens collected in alcohol without any determinations
            2.  Specimens pinned and labeled but without determinations.
            3.  A general collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but including all the common species

            4.  A collection of specimens pinned, labeled, and determined, but only select rare and uncommon species

            Having looked into this quite carefully over the years, I can offer a very definitive answer:

            The IRS form involved in non-cash charitable donations is Form 8283. Above a net deduction value of US$5000, the IRS will (in cases such as this) *ONLY* accept an estimate submitted by a certified appraiser. You, yourself, cannot supply a figure, either based on your own calculations or prices from independent sources. There is a section on the IRS form requiring the appraiser's signature, no way around it.

            BELOW a net deduction value of US$5000, the IRS will *ONLY* recognize prices established by (1) a certified appraiser or (2) independetnt sources which list the "Fair Market Value" of specimens that are equivalent to those donated. You. yourself, cannot calculate a value for a donation, using any measure you can think of. If you cannot produce a catalog listing for the exact same specimen, then the IRS is not interested in your opinion. To my knowledge, the ONLY independent catalog that can be used for tax purposes for donations of bee specimens is presently the BioQuip catalog.

            If you go to http://www.bioquipbugs.com/Search/WebCatalog.asp?category=1110 you will see the catalog listings for Hymenoptera, and if you click on any of the bee families, you will see that the minimum price for any bee (identified or unidentified) is $3.00 per specimen - and that is the only price the IRS will accept, barring the existence of some other catalog that gives prices for miscellaneous bee specimens (I would be very grateful if anyone can locate another source). Whether a specimen is determined or undetermined, mounted or unmounted, is completely irrelevant unless it appears in the catalog under a different price. There was, in the past, a "pricing guide" of sorts that originated in Florida, which attempted to calculate the values of specimens in the way Sam suggests, but an IRS officer came to one of the ECN conferences several years back and specifically told us that those guidelines were NOT allowable under IRS regulations, and anyone using those guidelines who got audited could expect a very unpleasant surprise.

            A few of you may recall that BioQuip only recently acquired their stock of specimens from the former "Combined Scientific/Insects International" - up until a few years ago, it was the latter company that had the definitive online catalog, at which point any miscellaneous insect was worth $2.00. Evidently, inflation has hit the market in miscellaneous insects. I've personally been using this system for as long as I've been donating insects (I do not maintain a personal collection), and have never once had any problems (I never claim more than $5000, even if I donate twice that amount or more in specimens, which is not uncommon).

            To reiterate: above $5000, you evidently must have a certified appraisal performed. Below that amount, you must demonstrate "fair market value" from an independent pricing guide - and, to my knowledge, there is only one such guide that lists miscellaneous insects, and the price there is a flat $3.00 per specimen. If you're donating exotic butterflies, moths, or beetles, that's a different story entirely, as there are likely to be dozens of sources of prices for such collectibles, with species-specific prices.

            Peace,
            --


            Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
            Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
            phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
                        http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
             "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
                   is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82



          • Doug Yanega
            ... That is fundamentally correct, with one important detail, and one minor detail: The institutional acknowledgment CANNOT indicate an estimated price. That
            Message 5 of 7 , Feb 6, 2012
            • 0 Attachment
              Re: [beemonitoring] Specimen Donations - Calculating the P
              Sam wrote:

              Excellent.  Many thanks for doing this research and reporting it back to everyone.
              So, bottom line is that if you are donating specimens to an institute that institute needs to send you some sort of written acknowledgement of those specimens and as long as donations are under $5000.00 you should be listing that contribution at $3.00 per specimen unless prices changes or another catalog lists other prices.  Donating over $5000.00 would likely be worth the headache if you were donating your life's work, but otherwise not.

              That is fundamentally correct, with one important detail, and one minor detail:

              The institutional acknowledgment CANNOT indicate an estimated price. That would be a conflict of interest, since they are not a neutral third party. It should indicate how many specimens, list their names or other taxonomic categorization to the best practical limit, but nothing about what they are worth. I have written such acknowledgments myself for donations to our collection, and am very careful about what the letter does and does not say (though I do mention the BioQuip catalog and IRS form 8283 to any donor who asks).

              Note also that for donations below $5K such paperwork is evidently not required *as part of one's tax filing* - though in case of an audit, it would be required at that point, so it would still potentially be good to have just in case. From what I can determine, Form 8283 by itself is sufficient until and unless one exceeds $5K.

              Peace,
              -- 
              

              Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
              Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
              phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
                           http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
                "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
                      is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
            • Doug Yanega
              ... Actually, I think most of the BioQuip specimens are unmounted, without labels - just data on the back of a cardboard piece, with the insect secured under
              Message 6 of 7 , Feb 6, 2012
              • 0 Attachment
                Dave Inouye wrote:

                >I'm not sure the IRS would understand the difference, but I suspect
                >that $3 figure applies to a pinned and labeled specimen, and not per
                >specimen in a batch of 200 in alcohol.

                Actually, I think most of the BioQuip specimens are unmounted,
                without labels - just data on the back of a cardboard piece, with the
                insect secured under stapled cellophane. That's how the stock they
                acquired from Combined was packaged, at least. I doubt they've gone
                to the trouble of unpackaging, mounting, and labeling all of those
                tens of thousands of specimens.

                Peace,
                --

                Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
                Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
                phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
                http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
                "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
                is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
              • L B
                This is really great info guys! Does anyone North of the border have any info they can contribute from a Canadian perspective in regards to donations of insect
                Message 7 of 7 , Feb 6, 2012
                • 0 Attachment
                  This is really great info guys!

                  Does anyone North of the border have any info they can contribute from a Canadian perspective in regards to donations of insect specimens to Museums, Universities, Agri-facilities and the like?

                  Great stuff,

                  LB

                  --
                  Lincoln R. Best
                  MSc Candidate
                  York University
                  4700 Keele St.
                  Toronto, ON
                  M3J1P3
                  (416)736-2100
                  ex. 66524

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