Last month I joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While at the membership desk, I also paid for a regular admission for two friends with me that day. Admission "fee" is normally $20/person, but a sign above the ticket counter says it's a "suggested donation" of $20. There were times, before I was a member, when I would run into the museum to see one work of art or one wing for 30 minutes, and would only pay about $3-$5. So the $20 really is just a suggestion.Anyway, I got a letter from the Met saying that most (but not all) of my membership fee was tax deductible. Fine. But I also got ANOTHER letter saying that the $40 I paid for my two friends to join me that day was also (entirely) deductible.I assume the Met is correct, that their entrance fee counts as a tax deductible donation. Does that mean I should get receipts for all the museums I go to that have suggested donations, and deduct these fees?What about other museums (such as the Museum of Modern Art) where the entrance fee is truly a fee, as in it's $20 a person no matter what to get in? Is any of this fee deductible?One reason I am surprised at this is that I've seen hundreds of people in line at the met to get in, and I've never seen anyone ask for a receipt. Or maybe a few have, and I haven't been paying attention.Thanks,FFL
I believe if the donation is just suggested then your payment is considered a donation. So if the fee is required, then you can't deduct it even if the museum is a non-profit.
The quick and dirty approach to answering your question is to say: Ask the organization.The museum needs to be an organization able to accept tax-deductible donations. Many are. Some aren't.The membership to the museum is likely to generate a partial deduction. Often, museum members will get some small benefits - a newsletter, special admission privileges, some token gift, things like that. In those cases, you will have to ask the organization how much of the membership is tax deductible. They should be happy to tell you and provide a receipt for tax purposes.When the admission is a hard and fast fee (such as MoMA), that is not going to be deductible. You're trading money for the ability to see their public collection. That's not a donation. But when there is an optional donation - as you noted for the Met - that is normally deductible. They provide free public access to their collection and simply ask for a donation to support their work. --Peter
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