Value of Scientific Specimens

Ron at Ron at
Wed Jul 25 16:53:55 CDT 2001

Barry M. OConnor wrote

> We were informed by an IRS agent some years back that the old
> FSCA value list was meaningless to them - it's all "fair market value"
> even if the FMV is zero. - Barry

Some years back... I would re-investigate this. First, there is no "market"
for much of entomological taxa.  Second, even if everything had a market
value this is not automatically equatable to scientific value. This is very
important. It is apples and oranges. This is "our" line of defense and
reasoning. The scientific community is not the art community or what have
you. Scientific value has nothing to do with "markets".  The scientific
value of a holotype, paratype, lectotype, neotype, individual specimens of
populations etc. has nothing to do with markets. If they did they would be
"on the market" not "in the museum".

Museum property, from buildings to specimens, must be delt with in specific
ways by IRS regs. IT is in the public trust and can not just be given
away - except to another non-profit. In fact at dissolution, it must be
given to another non-profit. etc. etc.

The above IRS agents position seems to be heads they win tails you loose.
First, it would disallow the long standing FSCA (set by a sovereign State
agency) as a scientific value system, and then if pointed to as the best
available criteria for a market value also disallow that de facto as it had
already be disallowed. It is the best long standing reference (perhaps now
only) for determining specimen value. Or would the IRS want (or allow) us
to use the poachers scale?  If the IRS 1) allows a deduction for donated
items, it must 2) allow a means for the establishment of said value.  Both
of these are allowed and their recommended vehicle is standard appraisal.
They can not then turn around and arbitrarily say the FSCA system doesn't
count. A system established by a government entity and functioning for
decades. What better "system" than one established by a government chart
and not any personal input or "market" inflated factors? I rest my case.

The solution here is simple. All museums need to adopt a universal
scale/chart - at the next board meeting and start using it.  This
establishes universality of procedure and value. A failure to do this only
promotes the current state of chaos. (This is also what alumni lawyers are
for.)  If only one Quaker refuses to swear on the bible he will just go to
jail.  If all Quakers refuse to swear on it the government will change the
law to read "Do you swear - or affirm..."


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