Non-Cash Contributions – Have your Documentation

Oct 7, 2015 | IRS Tax Tips, Non-Profit Accounting, RECENT POST

From Western CPE

eTax Alert™


Court Shows No Charity in Disallowing $37,315 of Non-cash Contributions (Kenneth Kunkel, TCM 2015-71)

Kenneth and Susan Kunkel claimed a $37,315 charitable deduction for non-cash contributions on their 2011 tax return. The Kunkels claimed to have donated property to four organizations: their church, Goodwill, Purple Heart, and Vietnam Veterans. They had no receipts, photos, or other documentation for the contributions, but claimed that they didn’t need receipts because each donation was less than $250.

What documentation is required?

$250 or more. For all contributions of $250 or more, the taxpayer generally must obtain a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the donee (§170(f)(8)).

Less than $250. “Separate contributions of less than $250 are not subject to the requirements of Subscribe Share Past Issues Translate §170(f)(8), regardless of whether the sum of the contributions made by a taxpayer to a donee organization during a taxable year equals $250 or more” (§1.170A-13(f)(1)).

$500 or more. Additional substantiation requirements are imposed for contributions of property with a claimed value exceeding $500 (§170(f)(11)(B)).

More than $5,000. Still more rigorous substantiation requirements, including the need for a “qualified appraisal,” are imposed for contributions of property with a claimed value exceeding $5,000 (§170(f)(11)(C). “Similar items of property” must be aggregated in determining whether gifts exceed the $500 and $5,000 thresholds (§170(f)(11)(F)).

What are “similar items?” The term “similar items of property” is defined as “property of the same generic category or type,” such as clothing, jewelry, furniture, electronic equipment, household appliances, or kitchenware (§1.170A-13(c)(7)(iii)).

The court categorized similar items from Kunkel’s list of non-cash items.

Clothing – $21,920
Books – $8,000
Furniture – $3,090
Household items – $1,653
Toys – $1,072
Telescopes – $800
Jewelry – $780

No appraisals and no receipts equal no deduction.
Clearly the clothing and book donations exceeded the $5,000 value and required appraisals to properly substantiate the deduction. All other categories exceeded $250 and required receipts. The court agreed with the IRS’s disallowance of all non-cash contributions.

Tax practitioner idea. Claiming a $6,000 contribution of “household goods” would require an appraisal. Claiming a $3,000 donation of furniture and a $3,000 donation of clothing would not. Categorize the donations carefully.


© Vern Hoven and Sharon Kreider 

Western CPE

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