Appraisal Story: Accidentally Giving Away A $40,000 Table

*This story is based on an appraisal experience by Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA. For confidentiality reasons, details of the assignment have been changed.

Not every object you gift to an institution or 501c3 requires a formal appraisal for the IRS.  In fact, you would only need one IF you were planning on taking a significant tax deduction. However, it can be in your best interest to get an evaluation of what you intend to donate BEFORE it’s a done deal.

Years ago, I did an appraisal for an institution which had accepted a donation of a small hand-crafted wood table. They told me that they thought it might be “something,” while the donor thought less of it.  The table didn’t fit their mission statement, so they asked me to examine it and offer my professional advice. My market research showed them that the “little table” wasn’t so little after all!  It was worth $40,000! Both the donor and the institution were shocked by their discovery.

Post appraisal there were obviously several conundrums to address. Should the museum return the gift?  Would the donor demand it back?  No one wants to unknowingly give away $40,000.  Had the donor at least received a verbal consultation before their “drive by donation,” they could have at least made an educated decision.

Contact the Magnussons to speak about your personal property donation today: 973-425-1550

Co-Authors: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Becky Lipnick, Communications Coordinator

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  • Barbara Johnson

    Lynn – give me a call sometime. I might be interested in working with you IF you need someone and IF y’all pay enough. That’s just my thought. I like your operation.

    Barbara Johnson

    You are a member of NAPO, correct?

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