Tax man comes for couple’s gold-coin find

MSN MONEY – Investing News | Friday, February 28, 2014| By Myra Saefong, MarketWatch


The people who unearthed the stash on their property could owe nearly half of the $10 million value in federal and state taxes.

The “greatest buried treasure ever unearthed in the United States” is about to be hit by the tax collector.

According to Kathleen Pender, a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, the couple who found in cans (pictured) buried on their property more than 1,400 rare gold coins worth more than $10 million will probably owe close to half of that sum in federal and state income tax, whether or not they sell the coins.

She quoted a 2013 tax guide in which the IRS stated: “If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is in your undisputed possession.”

That means the couple, who found the gold-coin treasure on their own property, may owe tax on the estimated value of the coins by this April 15, Pender quoted Leo Martinez, law professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, as saying in her article. The couple apparently found the coins in February of 2013.

Most of the money will be subject to the top federal tax rate of 39.6 percent, which starts at $450,000 in joint taxable income, the article said.

In California, where the coins were found, the top state rate on joint income over roughly $1 million is 13.3 percent, and taxpayers generally get a federal deduction for state income tax paid, which reduces their effective federal rate.

That puts the total amount going to state and federal tax at about 47 percent, the article said.