As part of ongoing efforts to protect taxpayers, the IRS recently issued warnings about a scam centered on fraudulent tax deductions for art donations. Promoters of this scheme persuade taxpayers to buy works of art at supposedly deeply discounted prices. The buyers are told that they can donate the art to a charity after a year or more, and receive a large tax deduction by claiming a value far higher than the price they paid. The promoters often recommend shifty art appraisers who are in on the scam, along with specific charities to accept the donations.
Taxpayers may generally deduct legitimate charitable donations of art, but any valuation over $5,000 must be supported by a written appraisal from a qualified art appraiser. Many people who have fallen for this scam now find themselves facing substantial additional tax assessments, along with IRS penalties and interest charges.