Give away highly appreciated assets

By Dan Kadlec, contributing editor


BILLIONAIRES: Donate the fruits of their wealth.

YOU: Give away highly appreciated assets.

Maybe you have stocks that you've owned for 30 years, artwork that you've grown tired of, or a collection of Star Wars memorabilia gathering dust in the attic. Donating appreciated assets like these can help you and your favorite cause.

Say a stock you bought for $10,000 two decades ago is worth $40,000 today. Give it to charity, and not only can you avoid paying a 15% tax on your long-term capital gains of $30,000 (about $4,500), but you can also deduct the full $40,000 on your taxes. Real estate and land enjoy similar tax treatment.

And if you happen to stumble across an original Monet while clearing out your attic? The tax rules are less favorable for art and collectibles. You can always deduct the amount you paid. But you can't write off the full market value of artwork unless the charity is using it for art-related purposes (in other words, hanging it in a museum), and the art must be professionally appraised.

If you want your Star Wars collectibles to become a force for good, sell them through eBay's Giving Works program. The auction site will waive its listing fee and commission if you agree to donate all of the sale proceeds to one of 18,000 charities.

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