Antique elephant tusks and items made of elephant ivory such as ivory carvings and ivory chess sets are now illegal to buy and sell in the United States. A revised regulation, 50 CFR 17.40e, in effect since July 6, 2016 that stemmed from Obama Executive Order # 13648 has made it illegal to buy and sell old ivory in the United States. In addition, several states have passed laws forbidding the sale of ivory within their state (NY, NJ, CA, HI, NV, NH, IL, OR & WA). NY, NJ, HI, NV, IL and CA also have a law making the sale of ancient mammoth ivory illegal.
What does one do with a family's estate elephant tusks and ivory carvings?
The Federal government has been encouraging the donation of elephant ivory tusks and ivory items to non-profit museums. It is legal to donate the items and a benefit of giving them to a museum is that the items qualify as a tax deduction for the donor. David Warther Carvings is a 501c3 non-profit museum in Ohio's Amish community that accepts donations of elephant tusks and ivory carvings. See them at www.warther.org. The museum is a non-profit ivory carving museum and therefore specifically designated per IRS guidelines to accept such pieces. The museum can help you contact a certified IRS approved ivory appraiser to evaluate your items for IRS donation purposes. The museum can accept African elephant tusks as well as ivory carvings and items made with ivory but only such tusks and carvings that are in the United States.
Inheritance Tax Burden.
There is usually a significant tax burden to the people you leave your ivory tusks and carvings to. You can leave your heirs ivory tusks and carvings in your estate however they will pay inheritance tax on the higher of acquisition cost or current appraised value and now with this new regulation they will not be allowed to sell the items to pay the tax liability. A simple case where IRS rules and this new Federal Ivory regulation simply do not coordinate. For this reason current owners are eager to receive a tax deduction now rather than to leave their ivory to their heirs who likely will receive them as a burden rather than as a benefit.
For more information use our contact page to email us or call David Warther at 330-852-6096.