To claim that charitable donation, get it appraised

March 04, 2007 -- MarketWatch If you made a large (worth $5,000 or more) noncash charitable donation in 2006, give yourself a pat on the back. And then take out your wallet and pat it — you're eligible for a tax deduction too.

But the IRS is going to need a little more than just your word. To claim the donation on your tax return you will have to get the item or items appraised. This year, it's a little bit trickier. A new law adopted by the IRS requires that all tax appraisals must be conducted by "qualified appraisers." If the appraisal value is found to be incorrect, both you and the appraiser will face penalties.

The new legislation will affect all appraisal disciplines, including personal property, jewelry and technical areas. And if you made a donation at the end of the year, don't wait to get the appraisal — it must be completed within 60 days of the donation date. If you didn't get the appraisal in time, don't sweat: You may be able to get an after-the-fact appraisal if you have documentation and the item can be tracked down.

The American Society of Appraisers is a good place to start when searching for an appraiser. Visit its Web site at www.appraisers.org to find an accredited appraiser or to get more information on after-the-fact appraisals. Also see www.appraisedirect.com for those residing on the east coast of the United States.

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