Fair market value.   Fair market value (FMV) is the price that personal property would sell for on the open market. It is the price that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

Books.   The value of books is usually determined by selecting comparable sales and adjusting the prices according to the differences between the comparable sales and the item being evaluated. This is difficult to do and, except for a collection of little value, should be done by a specialized appraiser of books. The condition of the book(s) is an important factor in establishing value.

Manuscripts, autographs, diaries, and similar items.   When these items are handwritten, or at least signed by famous people, they are often in demand and are valuable. The writings of unknowns also may be of value if they are of unusual historical or literary importance. Determining the value of such material is difficult. For example, there may be a great difference in value between two diaries that were kept by a famous person—one kept during childhood and the other during a later period in his or her life. The appraiser determines a value in these cases by applying knowledge and judgment to such factors as comparable sales and conditions. 

In most cases I do not evaluate manuscripts, autographs, and diaries myself but partner with a qualified appraiser of this type of material.

                        IRS regulations on appraisals

If the value of your book donation is greater than $5,000.00 you are required to have an
independent appraisal by a qualified appraiser.

Qualified Appraisal

Generally, if the claimed deduction for an item or group of similar items of donated property is more than $5,000, you must get a qualified appraisal made by a qualified appraiser. You must also complete Form 8283, Section B, and attach it to your tax return.  All of our appraisals include this IRS tax form filled in by us in the appropriate sections.

Important note on fees:  The minimum charge to do any tax related appraisal regardless of the number of books is $450.00. (Includes tax forms)

A qualified appraisal is an appraisal document that:

  • Is made, signed, and dated by a qualified appraiser (defined later) in accordance with generally accepted appraisal standards,

  • Meets the relevant requirements of Regulations section 1.170A-13(c)(3) and Notice 2006-96, 2006-46 I.R.B. 902 (available at,

  • Relates to an appraisal made not earlier than 60 days before the date of contribution of the appraised property,

  • Does not involve a prohibited appraisal fee, and

  • Includes certain information (covered later).

  • Prohibited appraisal fee.   Generally, no part of the fee arrangement for a qualified appraisal can be based on a percentage of the appraised value of the property. If a fee arrangement is based on what is allowed as a deduction, after Internal Revenue Service examination or otherwise, it is treated as a fee based on a percentage of appraised value.
                     Note:  My fee for any appraisal is $170.00  per hour and bears no
                                 relation to the appraised value. Please feel free to email or
                                 call 520-203-3019, for more information.

Although this has never happened, if you are subjected to any fines or penalty by the IRS as a direct result of errors on your appraisal or for other reasons directly related to my performance as an appraiser I will reimburse any fines or penalties, if these penalties can be shown to be a result of errors I made on an appraisal. This does not apply to insurance appraisals which often are settled for less than the appraised value and has nothing to do with my work or my expertise. 

A qualified appraisal must include the following information:
  1. A description of the property in sufficient detail for a person who is not generally familiar with the type of property to determine that the property appraised is the property that was (or will be) contributed,

  2. The physical condition of any tangible property.

  3. The date (or expected date) of contribution.   

  4. - Someone will get back to you FAST regarding your tax related appraisal. You will be provided with all the information you need to decide whether or not an appraisal is necessary for you.