Gifts of Personal Property: FAQs

What are the tax benefits of donating personal property?

The key question to determine is whether your donation has a legitimate use related to the charitable mission of our Johns Hopkins. For example, a gift of art work or rare books can enhance an educational purpose; a gift of a piano or other musical instrument can enhance a musical program. If your gift is related to our charitable work, then your income tax deduction is based on the fair market value of the property. For gifts of property with a value of $5,000 or more, an independent qualified appraisal of the property is required by the IRS.

If your gift of personal property has no relation to our charitable work, then your tax deduction is limited to your cost basis in the property. We suggest that you acquire IRS publications 526 and 561 to review all the comprehensive information available for gifts of personal property.

Can I arrange for a life-income stream for my gift of personal property?

In some cases, the answer is yes. Personal property can be transferred to a charitable remainder unitrust, which will provide the donor with tax-deduction benefits and set up an income stream for beneficiaries such as a spouse, children and/or other loved ones. Only personal property with a value of $100,000 or greater should be considered for this purpose.