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No Contribution Deduction for Church School Tuition

Court rejects argument that tuition resulted in an "intangible religious benefit."

A federal appeals court rejected a married couple's claim that they could deduct 55% of the cost of their son's tuition at a religious school since religious instruction comprised 55% of the curriculum and constituted an "intangible religious benefit" that did not reduce the value of their charitable contribution. The court concluded, "Not only has the Supreme Court held that, generally, a payment for which one receives consideration does not constitute a contribution or gift … but it has explicitly rejected the contention … that there is an exception for payments for which one receives only religious benefits in return." The parents also argued that they could claim a charitable contribution deduction for the amount by which their tuition payments exceeded the market value of their son's education. They claimed that the value of the education their son received was zero since ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • May 1, 2002

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