DONATING: What is the best home for my art? And how can I be sure to get that tax deduction?

If I donate art, can the organization I donate to tell me the value for a tax deduction?

No. That’s a conflict of interest. The organization has a stake in pleasing the donor, and so might be persuaded to value it at an unreasonably high amount so help the donor get a large tax deduction.

You need a written appraisal (by an independent appraiser) that you can back up with real sales data.

Check this with your tax preparer: Dr. Siegel’s understanding is that according to the IRS, having work appraised is the donor’s responsibility.

To protect yourself, vis-a-vis the IRS, you should hire a certified art appraiser. Get someone who comes with great references, and check those references.

Like all other hiring decisions, you want the best person for the job.

As of the writing of this blog post, artists cannot take tax deductions for the value of art work they make, if they donate it. Sorry. Even if the work is objectively valuable.

Any other person, with an appraisal based on real public records of sales, can take a deduction.

How do I choose where to donate?

If you don’t care what happens to the art, and you just want a tax deduction, give it to the first non-profit organization that will take it and give you a thank you note for the IRS. Make sure the language in the letter is appropriate for this purpose (check with your tax preparer). The non-profit will re-draft the letter with the correct language if you ask them to do so.

But if you care what happens to the art, contact the Development Office of every charitable organization that interests you. Find out whether they will agree to keep and display the work in a safe appropriate place in perpetuity, or agree to do with it what you would like them to do. Get that agreement in writing. Make sure your attorney approves of the agreement before you sign it.