Donating property to charity or town - tax write off?

hi guys,

i have a property i can purchase for extremely cheap. the house itself isn’t really useful since it floods pretty bad. it’s located in a historic district and the previous tenant rented out the downstairs to run his fishing shop out of. coincidentally enough, i was talking to another investor at the gym. through course of discussion he mentioned some partners of his would take useless properties and donate them to a charity (or town) and get the full market value tax write off. (this was after they held it for a year)

i think this would be perfect for this situation for this property im able to purchase for extremely cheap.

does anyone have any info or experience with this?


Generally, purchasing assets to give away is not a smart move.

Let’s say you buy a place for $10k. It has an appraised (yes you need an appraisal) market value of $20k (I will ignore whether or not you can find someone dumb enough to sell you real property below appraised market value).
You get a $20k deduction, saving $6k in tax. Maybe you save $8k in tax if you’re in the top bracket.

So you’re down $4k in cash.

And this is before income limits on charitable contributions, 30% limits on real property contribution of capital gain property unless certain conditions are met, and probably 4 other limits I haven’t thought of yet.

Don’t confuse a charitable deduction with tax savings. You only save the tax on the deduction, not the entire deduction amount.

what if you could purchase the property for 1k and you could get an appraisal around 70k?

sure. and you’d make even more money collecting unicorn farts in a sparkle jar.

i see how this seems very unlikely. here’s why the property is able to be purchased for so cheap:

the owners are in their 80s and the son (power of attorney) is across the country. they just want to be done with it.
the building is in a historic district and located right next to a river
the area floods bad and the state has an easement which allows them to control the water flow in the river (ie/ how bad the area can flood)
this place floods so bad it can go up to 5 feet of water in the downstairs

the list goes on…but with the flooding issue alone it’s hard to monetize the building.

“market value” = “monetized”

just because somebody “says” that it’s worth $70 doesn’t make $70 its market value. The market value is whatever the independent appraisal says is the market value. ie: what it will sell (or “monetize”) for.

you just said its market value is not $70 because it cannot be “monetized” at $70.

If you donate a property for tax benefits, you are going to have to get a real estate appraisal. An appraisal is going to be based on the highest and best use for the property. Because of the flooding situation, it will most likely NOT be appraised for residential use. Imagine trying to get property insurance on a flood-prone property. Imagine trying to get a mortgage on a property that you cannot get insurance coverage on. Do you see the problem.

You would be better off trying to sell the property to the city. If they are responsible for the amount of flooding, they are responsible for the loss of market value and should compensate the owners for it.

thanks for your reply. this property is zoned commercial. the building has a store downstairs with a bathroom and storage up top. it’s currently run as a fishing shop.

The problem here is the flooding problem and the current zoning will have little effect. Properties on an active flood plain have a very diminished value. You would have to check with a local appraiser to see how much of a loss of market value you would be looking at.

Personally, a sale to the city is by far going to be your most profitable venture - especially since they are responsible for the flooding and thus should compensate the property owner.

Ryan - have you ever got an answer to your question? I’m curious too, let’s say you paid 1k - the question remains - can you deduct based on appraisal (hopefully higher than the purchase price)? Please elaborate

Another simple fact. If you are dumb enough to purchase a property in a flood zone…KNOWING IT FLOODS…and it does flood…who are you going to sue…yourself for being dumb???

Bill thanks for your “valuable” contribution… regardless of flood zone or other aspects you deem dumb, this is a technical question that I would like to find the answer…