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Gift Planning Corner

Gifts of Tangible Personal Property

Posted by Kay Pitches, Estate Coordinator

Making a donation of tangible personal property to support The Nature Conservancy may not be the first type of gift you consider—but it can be an excellent way to save on taxes or free yourself of property that is expensive to insure or maintain, while supporting the conservation work you value.

Acquired with care and thought over many years, your tangible personal property is an often-over¬looked asset that can be used to support conservation work around the world. Tangible personal property is physical property other than land and buildings, such as works of art, antiques, books, jewelry or coin collections. You can make this type of gift to the Conservancy immediately, or you can make a gift through your estate. It is important to talk with your chapter gift planning officer first to be sure that the gift will benefit you and the Conservancy in the way that you hope. In many cases, it can be an efficient and easy way to simplify your affairs.

If you own artwork, jewelry or other tangible personal property that has appreciated in value, you may avoid capital gains taxes by donating it to the Conservancy today. If you choose to leave tangible personal property through your estate, your estate will receive a charitable estate tax deduction.

In both cases, if the property is related to the mission of the Conservancy—such as a truck or a computer that a local chapter can use—then you or your estate will receive a tax deduction for the fair market value of the property. If our use of the gift is not related to the Conservancy’s tax-exempt purposes, as in the case of antiques or gems, then the Conservancy will sell the property and use the proceeds to support our conservation work. You will receive a tax deduction based on the lower of either the asset’s cost basis or fair market value. The Conservancy has contacts at several major auction houses, making it very easy for us to sell artwork, coin collections and similar items while saving you or your heirs the hassle of selling these kinds of items.

The Conservancy accepts many different kinds of gifts, but it is always wise to discuss your gift with Conservancy staff first to be sure that we can accept it. Gifts valued under $50,000 are accepted at the discretion of your local chapter, but there is no minimum value for gifts made through your estate. It is also important to know that donations of boats, airplanes or other vehicles are subject to special rules.

Once you have confirmed your gift with your chapter, Conservancy staff will walk you through the relatively simple process of filling out appropriate IRS and Conservancy forms. For many people, donating tangible personal valuables to the Conservancy is a perfect way to eliminate the burden and potential cost of selling these items on their own, while supporting a cause that is personally meaningful.

If you would like to discuss the benefits of donating tangible personal property to the Conservancy, please feel free to call our team toll-free at (877) 812-3698 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST or email us at legacy@tnc.org.


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