Charitable Donations of Specimens from Federal Public Lands
Question: May I lawfully donate and take a charitable donation deduction from my income taxes for rock, gemstone, mineral, or fossil specimens that I collect on federal public lands as a recreational rockhounder?
Answer: No. Although you may donate such specimens to a charitable organization (such as certain non-profit museums), you may not lawfully take a charitable deduction for the donation. The explanation is simple. The specimens were not your property; rather, they belonged to the United States. Accordingly, taking a charitable deduction is not allowed.