For some of your clients, the thought of giving artwork to a museum or other charity might have crossed their minds. Otherwise, in the estate plan you’ll build for the art collector, the choices largely boil down either to selling the pieces, or giving them to family and loved ones during life or through a bequest.

It is imperative to understand the tax consequences of each disposition scenario as you advise your clients about their collectibles. For example, clients may not realize that the higher capital gains rate of 28% generally applies to artwork and other collectibles–not the 20% rate typically applicable to sales of other types of capital gains assets. And even this higher rate has been the subject of some tax reform discussions.

Indeed, many clients would prefer to hold onto their art collections, rather than sell during their lifetimes, in order to take advantage of the step up in basis upon their deaths.

Charitable giving is an option here, too, and your client can potentially avoid capital gains and estate taxes by donating artwork to a nonprofit organization. Be very careful, though, because the rules are different depending on the type of charity (e.g., a museum versus a foundation) and whether the charity’s use is related to its exempt purpose (e.g., a museum versus an animal shelter).

So, what happens if your client wants to give an NFT to charity? Which rules apply–the usual rules for non-cash assets, or the rules for donating artwork? The law is equal parts emerging, fascinating, and intricate! As IRS guidance emerges–and similar to the tax treatment of gifts of art collections–the proper tax treatment likely will hinge on factors such as how the NFT will be used, whether the donor is a “creator,” and whether the NFT is marketable and easily converted to cash.

The team at The Foundation for Enhancing Communities thrives on complex giving opportunities. Whether your clients’ estates include artwork, digital assets, real estate, or closely-held stock, please reach out. We’d love to help you evaluate the options for achieving both your clients’ tax goals and charitable planning goals.

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