You may think that being eligible for the charitable tax deduction is as simple as making your gift and then claiming the deduction. Not so. In order to qualify, there are important steps to take regarding documentation and valuation of your gift.
Fundamentally, you need to prove the value of what you have given, but that can get complicated when you are giving in the form of things. You need an appraisal of any thing you give (e.g., art, a house, an easement, or a service), and you need that appraisal to answer all the tax man’s questions even before he asks them. In short, appraisals can get tricky.
For example, if you give art you need an art appraiser, and if you give real estate you need a real estate professional. However, what if you give interest or stock in a company? Then the appraisal becomes even trickier.
When you are giving less than obviously valued interest, then you might want to consider the advice given in a recent Forbes article titled “It's Hard To Satisfy The Qualified Appraisal Requirement For A Charitable Contribution If You Appraise The Wrong Property.” The problem with interest or stock in a company is that the interest or stock is different than the things the company owns. So, 10% of the stock in a company with $5 million in assets is not (necessarily) equivalent to 10% of $5 million. Such is the case, even when the sole purpose of the company is to hold well-documented and appraised assets worth $5 million.
In a “simple case,” the IRS likely will provide leniency and determine that such and such an appraisal was “substantially compliant” if not fully so. Nevertheless, the greater the business complexity, the greater the risk of misstep and attending (and costly) determination of insubstantial compliance.
To avoid any questions being raised about your gift, obtaining an appraisal is an essential step when recognizing the tax implications of any transfer of property that is more than simply money itself. Contact your estate attorney or tax advisor for further assistance.
Reference: Forbes (February 5, 2013) “It's Hard To Satisfy The Qualified Appraisal Requirement For A Charitable Contribution If You Appraise The Wrong Property”