Our 501(c)(3) organization was given a donation of merchandise. The donor is claiming a deduction of $86,000. We sold it at a garage sale for $7000. Can we give the donor a receipt for the $86,000?
No. In fact, assuming that the garage sale was held within three years of the receipt of the gift, you have to give the donor (and the IRS) a Form 8282, which states the value you received on the disposition.
Ordinarily, a donor of personal property is required to file a Form 8283 in order to claim a deduction for personal property for which a deduction of more than $500 is claimed, including a qualified independent appraisal if the value claimed is more than $5000. (Most ordinary business corporations, so-called C corporations, do not have to file the 8283 unless the deduction claimed is over $5000.) On the Form 8283, the charity acknowledges receipt of the property, but does not put a value on it. In order to be entitled to a deduction for a higher appreciated value for capital assets held more than a year, the property has to be used by the charity in its charitable activities, however. Your sale within three years is proof that it wasn’t so used and has to be reported. If the donor filed a claim for deduction higher than the tax cost, the donor will have to include income equal to the difference between the amount deducted and the $7000 received at sale on the tax return for the year in which the sale took place. (See Ready Reference Page: “Congress Passes Charitable Reforms, Approves Limited Giving Incentives.”)
If the property was not a capital asset held for more than a year, the deduction would be the lower of fair market value or tax cost. If the merchandise was inventory of a business, the business might have been eligible for a slightly higher deduction if you had used it directly for the care of the ill, needy or infants, but your sale of the property deprived them of the higher deduction even if they would otherwise have been eligible. (See Ready Reference Page: “Corporations Have Special Rules on Contributions.”)