The Tax Man

It’s tax time again! Not a favorite time of year for many, but still one of the inevitable parts of life.  While it may seem a touch premature, there may be a way to ease your visit to the “taxman” next year, and the time to start working towards that is now.
As I assist clients with the liquidation of their household content and antiques, many ideas come into play. Tag sale, auction, and purchase by a dealer or private collector are viable options. There are, however, those times when there appears to be no market for the items that you want to sell. When a buyer is hard to find, you can sometimes turn your unwanted antiques and collectibles into financial gain by donating them.
Local churches and other tax exempt charitable organizations often hold silent or actual auctions as fundraisers. They are always looking for quality donations and are especially appreciative of antiques. In a soft market where your $600 piece of Rookwood pottery may only yield $200 at auction, the charity which accepts it for a silent auction will usually give you a receipt for the full value if you have a bill of sale or an appraisal.
Another venue to explore might be a museum or university. If your piece is something that is “museum worthy” try to have the institution do the appraisal for you. They tend to appraise rather high, which is definitely to your advantage if the gift is tax deductible. The institution with which you are dealing should provide you with either a professional or volunteer appraiser who can handle the necessary paperwork. Tax laws can be very complicated, but the institution you choose should be able to answer any questions that you might have.
Some items are almost impossible to sell. Old newspapers, architectural plans, obsolete blueprints, old manuscripts, letters and photographs are good examples of items for which you are unlikely to find a buyer. Collectors are extremely selective in these areas and dealers steer away from them because of their slow turnaround time. These items, that are next to impossible to turn into cash, can make great donations. Contact your state or local library to see if your items are of interest to them.
Check with your local historical society for a list of organizations in your area doing restoration. Old government buildings and homes being brought back to their former glory are always in need of era-appropriate furnishings and appointments. A number of groups throughout Indiana are currently working to restore old school houses. Desks, class photos, ink wells, old blackboards, and athletic uniforms, which are often of minimal value in the market place, might be appreciated by such a group.
If you still have items to dispose of, charitable resale shops like Goodwill, Little Sisters of  the Poor and The Salvation Army are always in need of donations. Some require drop off while other will come to your home, especially for large or bulky items. These organizations will provide you with a receipt that you will be responsible for fill out. Large donations may require itemization and proof of purchase; however you can usually claim up to a $400 deduction without receipts on bulk items like books, home decor, dishes or clothing.
Tax laws change from year to year. Make certain to consult your attorney, estate representative, or tax consultant to verify the legality of a deduction resulting from donation. Until next time . . . . Linda

Linda Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the valuation of estates and may be reached at 317-258-7835 or