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Hi, all --

I'm looking for some guidance to answer a question I was asked the other day.

I handle the contributions for a small choral group to which I belong, a 501(c)(3) organization to which contributions are tax deductible. I record the donation, send the requisite "no goods or services..." letter to the donor, then send the check to the treasurer to record and deposit.

Last year, we started asking for dues from singers to defray costs. If someone cannot afford the dues, they are not required to pay. Can these dues be considered a tax-deductibe charitable contribution to the organization? I can see the answer both ways.

Thanks for any insights you can provide.

Earble
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I'm looking for some guidance to answer a question I was asked the other day.

I handle the contributions for a small choral group to which I belong, a 501(c)(3) organization to which contributions are tax deductible. I record the donation, send the requisite "no goods or services..." letter to the donor, then send the check to the treasurer to record and deposit.

Last year, we started asking for dues from singers to defray costs. If someone cannot afford the dues, they are not required to pay. Can these dues be considered a tax-deductibe charitable contribution to the organization? I can see the answer both ways.

Thanks for any insights you can provide.


I realize that you are asking a tax question, but you may have a larger legal issue. Check your state law to determine whether collecting dues confers the right to control the actions of the organization.

Dues paid to a charitable organization are deductible contributions to the extent that the dues paid exceed the value of benefits received.

Ira
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I handle the contributions for a small choral group to which I belong, a 501(c)(3) organization to which contributions are tax deductible. I record the donation, send the requisite "no goods or services..." letter to the donor, then send the check to the treasurer to record and deposit.

Last year, we started asking for dues from singers to defray costs. If someone cannot afford the dues, they are not required to pay. Can these dues be considered a tax-deductibe charitable contribution to the organization?


One resounding "yes" here, influenced somewhat by my being in such a position for years. IMO commuting expenses for rehearsals are also deductible as out-of-pocket expenses, but I draw the line at performance attire unless you perform in mermaid costumes or some other attire not suitable for other uses.

Let me know when you make your Carnegie Hall (travel expenses deductible) debut, and I'll come. And don't forget, it's better to get on top of the note and pull it up rather than under trying to push it up.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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Ira said:

I realize that you are asking a tax question, but you may have a larger legal issue. Check your state law to determine whether collecting dues confers the right to control the actions of the organization.

and Phil said:

One resounding "yes" here, influenced somewhat by my being in such a position for years. IMO commuting expenses for rehearsals are also deductible as out-of-pocket expenses, but I draw the line at performance attire unless you perform in mermaid costumes or some other attire not suitable for other uses.

I believe that between these two replies I have my answer. What we are calling "dues" are not membership dues per se, as no membership status is conferred upon payment, and nobody is turned away for lack of payment. They are a way to help the choir defray expenses for music purchases, hall rentals, etc.

Phil also said:

And don't forget, it's better to get on top of the note and pull it up rather than under trying to push it up.

Jeez, you sound like every choir director I've sung for...

Thanks,
Earble (baritone)
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Let me know when you make your Carnegie Hall (travel expenses deductible) debut, and I'll come.

I have a friend who has performed both at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center (among other venues). And another who has performed at Lincoln Center. If they have not incorporated their business (I have no idea), I assume they fill out a Schedule C.

I have never looked at their Schedule C returns. One lives in Brooklyn and has to taxi to Carnegie Hall and to bring her toy pianos with her (she has no car). Carnegie Hall have Steinway adult pianos on hand, but no toy pianos. I assume the taxi fare is tax deductible, though I do not need to know,

The other friend also plays toy piano and travels a lot by air. Toy pianos take quite a beating in transit, so they need to be replaced from time-to-time. I suppose for them, the cost of those is tax deductible as well: tools of the trade. Toy pianos of concert quality tend to cost around $300, unless you want some special ones that are much more (historical ones no longer manufactured). But they may be worth it.

This one would cost a fortune if you could even find one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u-RW2FMj6k&feature=rela...

This one is played on two relatively inexpensive toy pianos (but way better than Toys-R-Us ones).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vzj-u8LjMs
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