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The IRS allows for tax-deductible donations to non-profits of valuable items such as stock or artwork. Is there precedent for tax-deductible donations of valuable data? For example, if a package delivery company donated its data on traffic and location patterns to an urban planning non-profit, could the company claim a deduction?

  • Can you arrive at a monetary valuation of the data on the commercial market? – BlueDogRanch May 8 '17 at 17:07
  • A value of the data can be estimated, but it would be highly subjective and dependent on how a purchaser could use it. If the data were to be sold commercially, a buyer would need to calculate an expected value of the data that would depend on the potential value and the likelihood that that value can be realized. There is precedent for buying historical financial market data, but the business practice of using such data for profit is well established. In the traffic data example would regulators accept a best guess, such as the cost to collect similar data? – chepyle May 8 '17 at 23:05
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The formula for determining the value would actually likely be:

the fair market value less any gain that would have been realized if the property had been sold at its fair market value on the date of the donation.

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Yes it can and the tax deduction is for the value it cost you. Unless you are giving up all rights to the data, this would be zero. If you are transferring all rights (i.e. you will never use it again) it would be the market value of the data.

  • If as a business I charge for access to a collection of data there is an established market value for that data. If I donate access to that data why wouldn't that count? This would be more of a donation of service than a donation of goods, and might be another way to view the question? – Jason Aller Feb 4 '18 at 17:18
  • @JasonAller Sure, but why not make it unchallengeable - charge for the service and donate equivalent revenue. – Dale M Feb 4 '18 at 19:42

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