Donations and Taxes

In 2012, the famed portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz needed to earn some money quickly, since she had recently been in financial trouble. It is not certain who, but someone came up with an idea to help the situation.

A wealthy Canadian would purchase approximately 2,000 prints from Leibovitz for $4.75 million and donate them to a museum in Nova Scotia. The wealthy donor would then be able to get a tax break in Canada.

However, the idea has not gone over well with Canadian regulators, who must approve of it.

The story is reported by The New York Times in “Canada Debates Whether Gift of Leibovitz Photos Is Also a Tax Dodge.”

The problem is that the museum is trying to get a tax break of $20 million for the wealthy donor.

Three different independent auditors have supported that the pictures would be worth $20 million, if they were sold individually.

This has been difficult for regulators to swallow, since the donor would be receiving a break far greater than the amount that he actually spent.

Regulators have rejected the application for the break three different times, but the museum is attempting a fourth application.

In the U.S., the laws are different.  However, it is still important to understand that large gifts of art to museums can be scrutinized closely by tax officials, especially if done as part of a plan to shrink an estate below the estate tax threshold.

Reference: New York Times (July 25, 2017) “Canada Debates Whether Gift of Leibovitz Photos Is Also a Tax Dodge.”

Hear From Our Clients

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce

Josh Nelson, and his staff, have been amazingly helpful to our family. The ins and outs of nursing homes, the rules and regulations that govern Medicare and Medicaid are daunting and the folks at Nelson Elder Care Law have been informative, responsive, and above all, empathetic. I cannot emphasize enough how their service has taken a weight off of our shoulders especially during a world pandemic that has targeted nursing homes across our country. I highly recommend retaining Josh and his firm!

- Marcia

I had a simple legal question to them that I needed answered and they very helpful in giving me the information I needed. I highly recommend them and will reach out to them if I need more advice or assistance. Thank you for taking your time to just answer a couple of questions I had!

- Ben