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Contributions that Refer to the Donor's Name

The IRS clarifies the deductibility of these donations.

• The IRS clarified the deductibility of "contributions" that refer to the name of the donor. For many years, there has been some question regarding the deductibility of gifts that name the donor. For example, many churches honor large donations by inscribing the name of the donors on a memorial plaque. Such gifts often are associated with building programs, or with a donor's payment of a substantial portion of the purchase price of a particular item (e.g., stained glass windows, a church organ). Does mentioning a donor's name in such a way affect the deductibility of the gift? The argument could be made that it does, since a charitable contribution (to be tax-deductible) must be a transfer without any expectation of a return benefit. Does the public disclosure, for many years to come, of the donor's identity on a memorial plaque constitute a "benefit" received in exchange for the gift ...

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  • May 1, 1992