Carnegie Mellon University

Give to CMU

Personal Property

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A gift of artwork, coins, antiques, or other personal property can be an excellent way to support Carnegie Mellon.

A gift of personal property may be right for you if:

  • You own artwork, antiques, or a collection of value that you no longer want.
  • You own personal property that would be useful to the University.
  • You want to reduce income tax on capital gains.
  • You would like to make a gift to Carnegie Mellon.

How It Works
You give your personal property to Carnegie Mellon. We either put your property to a use related to our mission, or we sell your property and use the proceeds.

Gifts of artwork, coins, and other collectibles 
You can use artwork, coins, and other collectibles to make a generous gift to Carnegie Mellon. Depending on the property you give to the University, CMU may either keep your property and use it for its charitable purposes or sell it and use the proceeds.

Gifts of other personal property 
You may own equipment, supplies, or other personal property that you no longer need and would be useful to the University. Please discuss these items with us prior to your donation to determine which ones we will be able to put to productive use.

Relieve yourself of responsibility 
Maintaining valuable collectibles, such as art or antiques, can be a big responsibility. By giving your collectible to Carnegie Mellon, you will no longer be responsible for keeping it secure, preventing its deterioration, or paying to insure it against damage or loss. If you are in this situation, consider making a gift of the item or items to Carnegie Mellon.

Tax benefits 
Your gift of personal property will save you tax on income and capital gains.

If Carnegie Mellon is able to use the item(s) you give us to advance the University's charitable purpose, you will be eligible for a charitable income tax deduction equal to the full appraised value of your property. If CMU cannot put your property to a "related use," or you direct Carnegie Mellon to sell your property immediately for cash, your charitable income tax deduction will be limited to the amount you paid for your property.

Whether or not Carnegie Mellon is able to put your gift property to a related use, you will avoid all potential capital gains tax on your property. If you were to sell this property, you would have to pay a special 28% tax on the difference between its current value and what you paid for it, rather than the 15% tax applied to sales of securities.

As an additional benefit, you may also save estate taxes, as once you give your collectible or other personal property to Carnegie Mellon the property will no longer be part of your taxable estate.

Appraisal requirements 
You will need a qualified independent appraisal of your property in order to establish the value of your gift. If you give personal property valued at $5,000 or more and you wish to take a charitable income tax deduction for your gift, you will need to include this appraisal with your federal income tax return.

Consult with us before making your gift
We ask that you discuss with us the personal property you are considering for donation before you make your gift. We want to be sure that Carnegie Mellon can accept the property you have in mind.

Also, we will want to discuss with you what will happen to your property once CMU receives it. We want to be sure the University will be able to carry out your wishes. This discussion will also help you anticipate the likely tax benefits of your gift.

Example

Harold Mortensen has been an avid stamp collector since he was a kid. His collection was appraised for insurance purposes last year at $20,000. Mr. Mortensen paid only about $2,000 for his stamps.
 
Mr. Mortensen is in his 80's now and is no longer adding to his collection. None of his children have expressed an interest in owning the collection. A devoted supporter of Carnegie Mellon University for many years,  Mr. Mortensen wonders whether Carnegie Mellon could make good use of his collection.
 
After a discussion with Mr. Mortensen and his advisors, we determine that Carnegie Mellon should sell the stamp collection and use the proceeds. Mr. Mortensen is pleased that the value of his stamps will help support CMU and that the stamps themselves will wind up in the collections of others who will enjoy them as much as he has.
 
Because Carnegie Mellon will sell the stamps and use the proceeds, Mr. Mortensen will be able to deduct from his income taxes only the $2,000 he paid for the stamps. Mr. Mortensen understands this result and is anxious to proceed with his gift, knowing that it will provide valuable support to Carnegie Mellon, as well as settle what is to become of his beloved stamp collection.