July 16, 2013

Treasure Finding -- The Reality

Fenn Treasure Chest

So I read online about this treasure hunt going on like crazy right now in the US—this 82-year old millionaire hid a treasure in gold coins, nuggets, precious jewels and other similar artifacts (worth over $1 million) somewhere in the Rockies for adventurers to discover. Reason? He wanted to leave his imprint on the world (even if a small portion of it) before cancer took him, by getting people away from the TV/computer/video games, and out into the wild.

But then I got thinking. In this lovely country that is the US, what would be the tax consequences of finding a treasure?

And of course, being the “Land of the Free” everything you find/make has to be taxed to the max. So here are the consequences (from what I’ve gathered—of course, things could have changed… doubtful, but possible):

1. If you’ve found raw ore/nugget on private land, you don’t have to declare it as income until you cash it.

2. If the find is in a National Park or Public Lands that require government permission to recover:
   a. Take picture of the treasure before you dig it up + get a good attorney.
   b. Best you can hope for is a 50/50 split with the government.
   c. Costs to get permits and equipment for the retrieval of the treasure will come out of your share.
   d. Whatever’s left at the end will then be taxed as income (so if you’re in the high-tax bracket, expect another huge chunk of your treasure to disappear). Note, in the case of non-cash items, those are taxed upon sale.
   e. Therefore, people say you can expect to keep only 1/8 to 1/4 of your Treasure, when everything’s over.

Nowhere near as fun as in the days of the Count of Monte Cristo, eh?

More information on the Treasure Hunt.

And the dangers one’s faced with when hunting for it (including not being able to keep said treasure).

Desert USA

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