Value of Scientific Specimens

Ron at Ron at
Thu Jul 26 04:35:46 CDT 2001


----- Original Message -----
From: "wbwarner" <wbwarner at QWEST.NET>
Subject: Re: Value of Scientific Specimens


> You are both right, at least in part.  However, Ron, it IS the
responsibility
> of the DONOR to get an appraisal for any donations with total claimed
value of
> over $5000 in a given year.  For donations between $500 & $5000, an
> acknowledgment letter is required to be submitted, less than $500
requires only
> written records to be kept (receipts).  The accepting institution's
valuation
> does not suffice for an appraisal as it carries an inherent conflict of
> interest.  And, the appraiser has personal liability in the scenario
(he/she
> must have expertise and rely on comps for FMV--false or misleading
appraisals
> could be the basis for law suits); check with a real estate or art
appraiser
> for specifics.  The receiving institution also has additional paperwork
to fill
> out for donors as well as certain requirements on control of the
specimens for
> donations over $5000.  Check IRS publications 526 & 561 for more details.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Bill

Yes, there are these other factors too relative to amounts and procedures.
It is certainly imperative for both the donor and recipient to have all the
relative IRS publications on all this. Further, it is always incumbent upon
any donor of anything to anyone to have proper paper work for all amounts
and levels of transactions. In an audit it is not just a matter of receipts
and records but proper ones. We were audited once in my dental business as
a random audit. After a week of wasting our time, the agent said we had one
of the cleanest book keeping systems he had seen. I have never been slack
with the IRS in any of my business, personal, or eleemosynary dealings.

I ask this question. Are we looking for a way  to provide valued receipts
or to not provide such?  Are we trying to help our patrons or the IRS?  If
the former then this can be done. It is just a matter of finding out how.
My first step is to avoid the word market. Market's fluctuate often and
widely.  Standardized scales do not. The IRS and courts are not going to
reject a very reasonable, longstanding, universally used scale of
scientific specimen values. A $1.25 for spread, identified, labeled
specimens is cheep! So is $250 for a holotype of a new Ornithoptera that
might sell on the "market" for $3,000.  The IRS would love to see people
deduct $250 rather than $3,000.

There can be no standardized scale for real estate, stocks, cars, art,
antique artifacts etc.etc. We are only talking about organic specimens. The
problem here that donors might have is that the standardized scale is
_lower_ than market or commercial prices. The advantage here to the donor
is that they do not have to dig up some "appraiser" and pay some stupid fee
for what ultimately is only an estimate anyway. No appraiser or tax
preparer ever really guarantees their work - read their fine print. They
will make sure they don't go to jail - many won't even go to court or to
the audit.

Call up the IRS make and appointment with a tax exempt specialist. Present
to them your program (like you believe in it). Show them the advantage of a
set scale for scientific values versus a  high priced subjective markets
values chaos. Get a letter of approval. Don't take no for an answer. We
have worked out a few unique of specific arrangements with the IRS over the
years that aren't found in their publications.

Gosh, do some really think that if the Field Museum, CMNH, LACM, AMNH, USNM
etc. all got together and adopted the FSCA system (I hate reinventions of
the wheel) and had a proper enthusiastic joint presentation to the IRS -
showing the benefits to them too - that they would not jump at the chance
to embrace this?  Don't we know that they would then "encourage" all others
to use this same IRS approved USSVS (Universal Scientific Specimens Value
Scale)?

Of course this would mean more paper _work_ for someone, but it would also
mean  more top quality specimens donated also. What ever. I would like to
get into the "conflict of interest" thing too but not here and now.
Cheers.
Ron.

PS The fuzziness thread looks more interesting. I shall go over there me
thinks.




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