Attorney-at-Law

THE TROPHY HUNTER GETS STUFFED

In Uncategorized on 08/24/2017 at 16:47

Paul A. Gardner, 2017 T. C. No. 165, filed 8/24/17, is a real Nimrod. See Genesis 10:9. But Paul’s collection of hooves, horns, heads, hides and disjecta membra overran his trophy room, even after he divorced his wife and built a bigger one.

So Paul met up with a hunting buddy on one of his five-figure safaris to kill animals who never did him any harm (although he left the meat for the locals). And the buddy turned him on to the Dallas Ecological Foundation, subsequently known and designated as The Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation. These benevolent types, 501(c)(3) variety, accepted donations of unwanted trophies and suchlike from the Nimrods.

The buddy also threw in Doc Fullington, appraiser of trophies, but apparently not available to testify on  the trial.

The Doc whipped up a multi-page catalogue raisonné of Paul’s hooves, horns, heads, hides, etc., and Paul claimed a deduction of $1,425,900 as replacement value for 179 trophies, including “…no full body mounts and only three shoulder mounts (one of which was a ‘European mount’ featuring just the animal’s head).  The remaining 174 items consisted of:  58 skins and hides, 72 skulls (39 with horns or antlers), 15 horns, 15 antlers, 6 tails, 5 sets of hooves, 2 ears, and 1 set of tusks.” 2017 T. C. Memo. 165, at p. 5.

Well, IRS goes hunting for dollars. And Judge Lauber doesn’t care much for Paul’s witnesses, even though one of them was “…a technical consultant in the anthropology division of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.” 2017 T. C. Memo. 165, at p.17. But he never hunted, wasn’t a taxidermist, and wasn’t an appraiser.

Another was an art appraiser who had never appraised animals. And Paul also had as a witness a hunting consultant who runs “fair chase” safaris, providing thrills for the hunters and terror for the hunted at substantial costs to the hunter and ultimate cost to the hunted. This expert fails to include in his very large estimate of “replacement cost” the enjoyment factor.

In any event, the stuff Paul gave away was “commodities,” that is, stuff for which a regular market exists and has existed for years, with few fluctuations. Paul’s “replacement cost” theory, a separate hunt for each specimen across Europe, Asia, and Africa, doesn’t bring home the clichê.

At day’s end, IRS has an appraiser, who ”… has been involved with the taxidermy trade for more than 30 years.  He owns and operates a business that stuffs and mounts birds, fish, and small and large mammals for display or study.  He is a licensed taxidermist, has taught taxidermy classes, and has authored books on the subject.

“Since 2013 Mr. [IRS expert] has been a certified appraiser specializing in taxidermy items.  He has conducted at least 20 appraisals for insurance purposes and for valuing trophy mount donations.  He has been retained to conduct taxidermy appraisals by museums, State and local governments, and the IRS.” 2017 T. C. Memo. 165, at p. 14.

Paul had four (count ‘em, four) lawyers on this case. But no taxidermists.

Doesn’t help. Without a taxidermist on the stand, Paul gets stuffed.

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