IRS Tax Forms  
Publication 526 2001 Tax Year

Contributions You Cannot Deduct

There are some contributions that you cannot deduct. There are others that you can deduct only part of.

You cannot deduct as a charitable contribution:

  1. A contribution to a specific individual,
  2. A contribution to a nonqualified organization,
  3. The part of a contribution from which you receive or expect to receive a benefit,
  4. The value of your time or services,
  5. Your personal expenses,
  6. Appraisal fees, or
  7. Certain contributions of partial interests in property.

Detailed discussions of these items follow.

Contributions to Individuals

You cannot deduct contributions to specific individuals, including:

  • Contributions to fraternal societies made for the purpose of paying medical or burial expenses of deceased members.
  • Contributions to individuals who are needy or worthy. This includes contributions to a qualified organization if you indicate that your contribution is for a specific person. But you can deduct a contribution that you give to a qualified organization that in turn helps needy or worthy individuals if you do not indicate that your contribution is for a specific person.

    Example. You can deduct contributions earmarked for flood relief, hurricane relief, or other disaster relief to a qualified organization. However, you cannot deduct contributions earmarked for relief of a particular individual or family.

  • Payments to a member of the clergy that can be spent as he or she wishes, such as for personal expenses.
  • Expenses you paid for another person who provided services to a qualified organization.

    Example. Your son does missionary work. You pay his expenses. You cannot claim a deduction for your son's unreimbursed expenses related to his contribution of services.

  • Payments to a hospital that are for a specific patient's care or for services for a specific patient. You cannot deduct these payments even if the hospital is operated by a city, state, or other qualified organization.

Contributions to Nonqualified Organizations

You cannot deduct contributions to organizations that are not qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions, including the following organizations.

  1. Certain state bar associations if:
    1. The state bar is not a political subdivision of a state,
    2. The bar has private, as well as public, purposes, such as promoting the professional interests of members, and
    3. Your contribution is unrestricted and can be used for private purposes.
  2. Chambers of commerce and other business leagues or organizations.
  3. Civic leagues and associations.
  4. Communist organizations.
  5. Country clubs and other social clubs.
  6. Foreign organizations other than:
    1. A U.S. organization that transfers funds to a charitable foreign organization if the U.S. organization controls the use of the funds or if the foreign organization is only an administrative arm of the U.S. organization, or
    2. Certain Canadian, Israeli, or Mexican charitable organizations. See Canadian charities, Mexican charities, and Israeli charities under Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions, earlier.
  7. Homeowners' associations.
  8. Labor unions. But you may be able to deduct union dues as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit, on Schedule A (Form 1040). See Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions.
  9. Political organizations and candidates.

Contributions From Which You Benefit

If you receive or expect to receive a financial or economic benefit as a result of making a contribution to a qualified organization, you cannot deduct the part of the contribution that represents the value of the benefit you receive. See Contributions From Which You Benefit under Contributions You Can Deduct, earlier. These contributions include:

  • Contributions for lobbying. This includes amounts that you earmark for use in, or in connection with, influencing specific legislation.
  • Contributions to a retirement home that are clearly for room, board, maintenance, or admittance. Also, if the amount of your contribution depends on the type or size of apartment you will occupy, it is not a charitable contribution.
  • Costs of raffles, bingo, lottery, etc. You cannot deduct as a charitable contribution amounts you pay to buy raffle or lottery tickets or to play bingo or other games of chance. For information on how to report gambling winnings and losses, see Deductions Not Subject to the 2% Limit in Publication 529.
  • Dues to fraternal orders and similar groups. However, see Membership fees or dues under Contributions From Which You Benefit, earlier.
  • Tuition, or amounts you pay instead of tuition, even if you pay them for children to attend parochial schools or qualifying nonprofit day-care centers. You also cannot deduct any fixed amount you may be required to pay in addition to the tuition fee to enroll in a private school, even if it is designated as a "donation."
  • Contributions connected with split-dollar insurance arrangements. You cannot deduct any part of a contribution to a charitable organization if, in connection with the contribution, the organization directly or indirectly pays, has paid, or is expected to pay any premium on any life insurance, annuity, or endowment contract for which you, any member of your family or any other person chosen by you (other than a qualified charitable organization) is a beneficiary.

    Example. You donate money to a charitable organization. The charity uses the money to purchase a cash value life insurance policy. The beneficiaries under the insurance policy include members of your family. Even though the charity may eventually get some benefit out of the insurance policy, you cannot deduct any part of the donation.

Value of Time or Services

You cannot deduct the value of your time or services, including:

  • Blood donations to the Red Cross or to blood banks, and
  • The value of income lost while you work as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified organization.

Personal Expenses

You cannot deduct personal, living, or family expenses, such as the following items.

  • The cost of meals you eat while you perform services for a qualified organization, unless it is necessary for you to be away from home overnight while performing the services.
  • Adoption expenses, including fees paid to an adoption agency and the costs of keeping a child in your home before adoption is final. However, you may be able to claim a tax credit for these expenses. Also, you may be able to exclude from your gross income amounts paid or reimbursed by your employer for your adoption expenses. See Publication 968, Tax Benefits for Adoption, for more information. You also may be able to claim an exemption for the child. See Adoption in Publication 501 for more information.

Appraisal Fees

Fees that you pay to find the fair market value of donated property are not deductible as contributions. You can claim them, subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit, as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on Schedule A (Form 1040). See Deductions Subject to the 2% Limit in Publication 529 for more information.

Partial Interest in Property

Generally, you cannot deduct a contribution of less than your entire interest in property. For details, see Partial interest in property under Contributions of Property, later.

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