Charitable Donations of Specimens from Federal Public Lands

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Question:  May I lawfully donate and take a charitable donation deduction from my income taxes for rock, gemstone, mineral, or fossil specimens that I collect on federal public lands as a recreational rockhounder?

Answer:  No.  Although you may donate such specimens to a charitable organization (such as certain non-profit museums), you may not lawfully take a charitable deduction for the donation.  The explanation is simple.  The specimens were not your property; rather, they belonged to the United States.  Accordingly, taking a charitable deduction is not allowed.

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