Tax Man Comes for Couple’s Gold-Coin Find

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

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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Bev of MA
6 years ago

Give this government more money to squander under the guise of a law that isn’t a law (or whatever). Maybe a solution: This would be a hard thing to do (especially if this couple needs money) – Me? I’d donate it to a non-taxable entity, if there is such a thing and laugh out loud every time I thought of the IRS people weeping in the corridors of Washington. And whoever said it first: They really should have kept this business to themselves – how dare they be subjugated to this – when I was a kid – it was… Read more »

6 years ago

Why would you ever tell anyone of such a find? Simply sell 1 or 2 of the coins off as you need cash and no one would have been the wiser.

However, to wind up with a “free” $5 million doesn’t make for such a bad day worth of digging either.

Or you could find an attorney for about $1 million of your new found wealth to fight off the IRS until you die. God bless America. So many choices when you have money in your pocket to fight back.

R H Haynes
6 years ago


R H Haynes
6 years ago

Re: “She quoted a 2013 tax guide in which the IRS stated: . . . . . ” ! ! TAX GUIDES, WHETHER PUBLISHED BY THE IRS OR NOT, A R E N O T L A W, DIDJA CATCH MY DRIFT, ARE NOT LAW; ONCE MORE, ARE NOT LAW ! ! !

Lee Anderson
6 years ago

10 million market value – 5 million tax leaves them with 5 million dollars in what is, in effect, welfare. Hard to feel sorry for them.

6 years ago

Fair share? (Sarcasm)

Paul Buchkovich
6 years ago

If this couple were a congressman or Senator I would bet they would not have to pay a penny in taxes
Welcome to America this was a great country and getting worse
The moral of the story is keep your mouth shut and don’t tell anyone your business
you could invest your gold in a island somewhere and live happy ever after on vacation every year
Oh yes include your family too LOL

Mac Sterling
6 years ago

All the coins belong to the government, They didn’t make those coins, they don’t own them…

6 years ago

Welcome to the confiscatory tax rates we have in this country. That the couple will owe so much isn’t a surprise at all. Obviously they will have to sell the coins to pay off their tax bill or they will face tax liens, fines and whatever else can be dreamed up from both the federal and state governments. So it’s not a matter of if they choose to sell, but how fast they sell. As you state in your article, they will have to pay the taxes by this April 15th.

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