Valuation of Gift-in-Kind - Tax Court walks through how to value wine (not readily available off the shelf) gifted to a charity.


In a June 12, 2018 Tax Court of Canada case (Balkwill vs. H.M.Q., 2015-1651(IT)G), the Court was required to determine the fair market value (FMV) of 21 bottles of wine donated to charities. The taxpayer valuedthe wine at $23,600, while CRA argued a value of $4,700. The taxpayer’s value was based on the cost to obtain the wine through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s (LCBO) Private Ordering program, as the wine was not available off the shelf in Ontario. Note that liquor sales in Ontario are undertaken through this provincial entity, with no private retailers permitted.

Taxpayer loses
The Court noted that “actual, normal, functioning, lawful and available real markets” through which the taxpayer could have sold (not purchased) the wine were the most appropriate source of valuation information. The best evidence available to the Court, records from a U.S. consignment auction house, suggested values inferior to those assessed by CRA. As the Tax Court cannot order CRA to reassess at a lower value (that is, higher tax), the appeal was dismissed.

Court comments
Both parties had asked the Court to offer comments beyond its reasons in this specific case as guidancefor similar cases. These comments included the following:

  • Retail purchase price could reflect FMV in many cases. One example offered was a bottle of wine purchased off the shelf for donation to a charity auction.

  • Examples of potentially relevant evidence would include actual prices in auctionsconsignments, charity auctions, and any other available markets.

  • Prices of comparable wines not of identical labels or vintages could be used.

In the decision, and outside these comments, the Court also indicated that any regulatorytax, customs and import duties, transportation and other costs imposed by a governing jurisdiction would not generally impact the valuation of an asset.

For further information see Video Tax News Monthly Tax Update Newsletter, Issue No. 446.