Personal Property Appraising by John H. Grow December 21st. 2021
We are coming to a new year, new opportunities and sometimes looking back to all the stuff that we have kept over the years. It could be Upper Canada furniture from the 1700’s, a classic car that has been sitting in the garage for the past 35 years, or something else.
The decision to sell it or to donate it to a charitable organization is up to you. A taxable donation receipt may offset the taxes you would have to pay. Plus the charity / organization will benefit from the donation. Its important to verify that the charity is registered and its status current with the Canadian Revenue Agency. This can be done, by searching the name of the charity / organization.
Many organizations will have an idea of value what what is being donated. If the receiver organization is requesting an appraisal report from a qualified professional appraiser, its because the value of the item being donated is of a high value and the organization is responsible to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) for the value written on the taxable donation receipt. This is to prevent the possibility of an item being overvalued or in cases of potential misuse of the nature of the taxable donation receipt.
A number of museums across Canada do accept certain items depending on their speciality and if they have space and a desire to acquire the item in question. Just because a museum is interested in a item, does not mean you are home free. Many museums do not have a budget to acquire an item, nor the funds for the transportation & insurance. Many museums will ask for an appraisal report, and funds to cover the transportation & insurance. It all goes back to what interest the item holds of interest to the museum. IE: Certain Military items would be of interest to the Canadian War Museum. It’s worth noting that contacting and dealing with donation staff can take weeks to months. There are many cases where the museum is not at all interested in your item. Asking the staff if there anyone else you can talk talk to at another organization might be helpful.
Sometimes you might not be sure as to what you have exactly, and if it has real value, or if it’s worth the effort to donate it. A museum staffer would never try to buy the item that you have and if someone offers you an amount without the taxable donation receipt, walk away. Same goes for if someone tries to buy the item from you. Their job is not to educate you, but to turn a profit quickly. Do not be afraid to ask questions concerning why a museum / foundation or other charity wants the item you have. And if it will be displayed, or put into storage. Ask how this piece would fit into their organization.
When donating an item to a foundation or other charity, it’s worth noting that auction houses can donate their time from which the item that you are donating is assigned a value. So you are issued an taxable donation reciept and the auction house is also valued one for the equivalent of their listed commission / fees.
–Requests for Appraisals from Seeker Readers, last month generated many inquiries. Due to space limitations, we could not list all the items. All those who sent emails will be responded to personally.
Disclaimer: We can not list any source where you might be able to donate an item. Doing so, without knowing what you have without exact detailed information would be an implied referral. Doing your own due diligence and research on your treasure is the donor’s responsibility. The issuer of the charitable tax receipt has to be a registered charity / corporation.Please check with a accounting professional for taxation advice. Remember an offer to purchase an item from you is not a appraisal, but an offer to buy. Regardless of what the true value might be.
Editorial Board John H. Grow, ISA-AM, is a partner in the full-service appraisal firm of Prestige Evaluation Inc. John works with clients worldwide and has been featured on radio and television shows, as well as charity appraisal fairs. He is also a public speaker.
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