Tax man comes for couple's gold-coin find

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

By MSN Money Partner Feb 28, 2014 12:23PM
Credit: © Saddle Ridge Hoard discoverers via Kagin's, Inc./AP

Caption: One of the six decaying metal canisters filled with 1800s-era U.S. gold coins unearthed in CaliforniaBy Myra Saefong, MarketWatch

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.


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1257Comments
Feb 28, 2014 1:45PM
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Sure didn't take the IRS long to get their grubby fingers in the pie........Lesson to all....keep quiet about any finds and keep a low profile. 

Feb 28, 2014 1:34PM
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And, I am so very sure that any taxes on this historic find will be wasted in the usual incompetent and corrupt gov't manner, that will do no one any good. Better the finders kept it to themselves. But, of course if they choose to give it away to a museum, they get a tax write off for the value. That is extortion, and what the gov't is best at doing through the IRS. Criminal.

Turning a magnificent find(on their own property!!!) into wasted taxes is a travesty. But, so very typical of gov' greed and unfairness.

Feb 28, 2014 1:50PM
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I would think that he treasure trove belongs to them free and clear.  It was not found per se.  It became their possession when they bought and paid for their property and everything on it.  It isn't like they found the coins in international waters, or a taxi cab, etc. etc. etc.  When you purchase a lottery ticket you agree to pay taxes on "winnings" - like gambling winnings.  This was not winnings - it is property. 
Feb 28, 2014 1:44PM
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Of course, Uncle Sam needs to get their cut!  Just think of all the illegal aliens that money will help!
Feb 28, 2014 1:32PM
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America, land of the free as long as you pay for it. 
Feb 28, 2014 1:51PM
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These are twenty dollar coins minted by the US. The couple should declare them as such, and pay tax on $28,000 dollars worth of found currency. 
Feb 28, 2014 1:53PM
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Sorry, this isn't property. It is U.S. government  currency, and should only be taxed at face value. they need a better lawyer.
Feb 28, 2014 1:49PM
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This makes me sick... so much freedom, as long as we give half our income. 
Feb 28, 2014 1:47PM
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why should government get a cent of it?
Feb 28, 2014 1:49PM
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We can only hope the couple were liberal Democrates.The irony of having them have to give up half of the money to support the welfare state thy are proponents of would be hilarious .If not i am truly sorry for your loss.
Feb 28, 2014 1:48PM
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I'm sure those coins were purchased by the person who buried them with earnings that were taxed. Now Uncle Sam gets to tax that money again.
Feb 28, 2014 1:47PM
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I don't know that our government remembers how to handle real money, they've been printing the fake stuff for so long.
Feb 28, 2014 1:54PM
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This article is crap, the gold is only valued at 24K, the speculated value doesn't come into play until the coins are actually sold.
Feb 28, 2014 1:55PM
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If you strike it rich; Don't Tell Anyone.


The Gold-Rush of California and Alaska have shown that announcing wealth is a kin to opening the door for trouble; be it from criminals, swindlers, or Feds.

Feb 28, 2014 12:47PM
Feb 28, 2014 1:49PM
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Well, Obama wants that money so he can keep more people on FOOD STAMPS.  Someone has to pay their way
Feb 28, 2014 1:54PM
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The government whats you to die broke.
Feb 28, 2014 1:50PM
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The problem with taxing them. The IRS is taxing them on a perceived value. The physical value is only about 30k. The coins are only worth what someone is truly going to give them. Are all the treasures found off the coast taxed the same way?
Feb 28, 2014 1:39PM
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They should incorporate themselves, because as we all know corporations pay little to no taxes. Allowing them to keep their new found wealth will trickle down eventually anyway. Right?
Feb 28, 2014 1:13PM
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Not any longer than lottery winnings or hitting a big jack pot in Vegas. Most likely why they went public now as they found it last year and April 15th is rolling around.
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