I donate photos to non-profits to auction for fund raisers.
To help us answer your questions, we would need to know the following:
- how many photos you donate a year
- is this a relatively regular thing, i.e., donating each year, or a sporadic event
- are those photos a part of a limited edition (i.e., how unique your photos are)
- what is a typical price achieved in those auctions (for your photos) [because there are different IRS requirement for, say, amounts below $5,000 (no appraisal necessary) and above (appraisal needed)]
- do you otherwise sell your photography on a regular basis and at what price (relative to the price achieved in an auction for your photos), etc.
... I was under the impression that the price that the photo went for at the auction would be the amount I could write off on my taxes for charitable contributions. My accountant is not convinced of this and told me to read through IRS publication 561. I looked through this publication and it does not address my situation...
The Publication 561 does actually address your question, though doesn't answer it completely:"... The price an item sold for in an auction may have been the result of a rigged sale or a mere bidding duel. The appraiser must analyze the reference material, and recognize and make adjustments for misleading entries. .."
This quote simply explains why an auction price may not necessarily be the best way to determine the fair market value (which, by the way, is
the basic guiding principle in determining a donation value - replacement cost is just one of the factors in arriving at it)
As you can see, whenever it comes to IRS, the only 100% correct answer is: it depends