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Benefits Received for Contributions

Donations made in exchange for benefits are not tax-deductible.

A federal district court rejected the claim of a member of the Church of Scientology that "contributions" to his church were tax-deductible. The member conceded that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that contributions to the church were not tax-deductible, since they consist of specified payments in exchange for specified benefits. The member claimed that the IRS routinely permits members of conventional churches to deduct their contributions though benefits are received in exchange. As a result, the member insisted that the government was discriminating against him. In rejecting this claim, the court observed that "it is well-established that a taxpayer has no right to insist upon the same erroneous treatment afforded a similarly situated taxpayer in the past." Powell v. United States, 91-1 U.S.T.C. ¶ 50,117 (S.D. Fla. 1990).

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Posted:
  • May 1, 1991

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