Losing treasured items is traumatic enough, imagine being taxed for replacing them.
In an insightful article by leading tax professional Julian Block, the perils of being taxed on an Insurance claim for art that has appreciated are explained.
Using the received replacement value to purchase works of other types may not qualify you for the IRS’ “complete non-recognition of gain under the involuntary conversion rules”. This means you can be taxed.
Read the incisive article below and visit ArtInsuranceNow.com for comprehensive Fine Art coverages.
*The law authorizes an important tax break for a property owner who collects insurance (or other compensation) for property lost due to fire, theft or condemnation by a governmental authority. Ordinarily, you’re liable for an immediate tax on any excess over the cost basis of your property.
But a special rule permits taxes to be deferred if the proceeds are reinvested in similar property within the deadlines imposed by the IRS for replacement. For the “involuntary conversion” rules to apply, Code Section 1033 mandates that the replacement property has to be “similar or related in service or use” to the property replaced.
Understandably, words like “similar” lend themselves to different interpretations. Also understandable is that the IRS sometimes takes a hard-nosed approach.
Consider, for example, Letter Ruling 8127089. It held that oil paintings aren’t “similar” to lithographs so as to be eligible for involuntary conversion deferral.
The ruling dealt with a request for advice from someone I’ll call Irene Holmes. A fire in her home destroyed an art collection that included about 3,000 lithographs and a small number (about 1 percent of the entire collection) of oil paintings, pencil drawings, and wood carvings. A prudent Irene had insured the collection for its full current value. As current value exceeds her cost basis, a portion of the insurance proceeds represents gain.
Irene explained that she intends to use the proceeds from the insurance to purchase the replacement property. The replacements will consist of a mix of media — approximately 63 percent lithographs and 37 percent art works in other artistic media, such as oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures or other graphic forms of art — rather than reflect the composition of the lost artwork.
With that set of facts, the IRS “will not consider as property similar or related in service or use, art work in one medium, destroyed in whole or in part, replaced with art work in another medium. Therefore, in order to qualify for complete non-recognition of gain under the involuntary conversion rules,” the IRS spelled out what Irene has to do.
She “must purchase the same percentage of lithographs as were destroyed in whole or in part and the same percentage of art works in other artistic media as were destroyed in whole or in part.”
What happens if Irene decides to reinvest as proposed (63 percent in lithographs and 37 percent in other media? She’s going to be liable for taxes on the 37 percent of the proceeds that she reinvests in “other artistic media.”
Additional articles. A reminder for accountants who would welcome advice on how to alert clients to tactics that trim taxes for this year and even give a head start for next year: Delve into the archive of my articles (more than 225 and counting).
*Reprinted with permission from a Feb 20th, 2018 article by Julian Block.
About Julian Block
Attorney and author Julian Block is frequently quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He has been cited as “a leading tax professional” (New York Times), an “accomplished writer on taxes” (Wall Street Journal), and “an authority on tax planning” (Financial Planning magazine). More information about his books can be found at julianblocktaxexpert.com.
Risk exposures such as natural disasters and unexpected events like fire, flood, earthquakes, and storms, can cause extreme damage. Protect your art investments by obtaining an art insurance policy by Art Insurance Now / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc.
Visit www.ArtInsuranceNow.com to learn more, apply here or feel free to contact William Fleischer, CIC at 1.800.921.1008