[Noisebridge-discuss] 2010 taxes

Ryan Castellucci ryan.castellucci at gmail.com
Fri Jan 14 05:18:21 UTC 2011

>From a CPA I spoke with (since I'm probably itemizing this year) who
wishes to remain anonymous:


Membership fees paid to a 501(c)(3) are, in general, deductible as
charitable contributions.  For instance, paying dues to be a member
of the local S.P.C.A. is deductible.  The portion of the dues that
represents the value of any goods or services received in exchange
for a payment to a charity, however, is not deductible as a
charitable contribution.  For instance, if you pay $100 for a
membership to KQED but receive a "premium" of a book worth $15, then
only the excess $85 is deductible (even though you may perceive some
value by getting to continue to get to watch the programming).  If
you pay a charitable organization $50 to attend an event, the
admission of which is worth only $30, then the excess $20 is
deductible.  So -- what is the "value" of the benefits you receive
from Noisebridge?  Often, mere attendance at meetings is considered
to be of no value.  Example here:  if I pay $50 to be a member of
"Friends of the (insert name of municipality) Library" and there is
no change in my rights to use the library's resources, I get a $50 deduction.

Having said all of that, you have to have enough itemized deductions
(medical, taxes, mortgage interest, charity, etc.) to actually
benefit from deducting charitable contributions -- that's because
most taxpayers are allowed to deduct a "standard deduction" and there
is no benefit from itemizing deductions unless the itemization
exceeds the standard deduction.  Additionally, there are strict rules
about receipts and/or acknowledgments for charitable contributions
-- both in terms of having the proof and in terms of what the charity
includes on the receipts and/or acknowledgments.  Repeat:  there are
strict rules about receipts and/or acknowledgments for charitable
contributions.  More information is available in this IRS
publication: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf  The section
entitled "Records to Keep" on pages 17 and 18 (in the 2009 version of
that publication) is of particular interest.

Since "everything Noisebridge has/does is available to non-members"
(except voting/consensus), I see nothing but charitable
intent in paying membership dues and would deduct the dues, as long
as the record-keeping requirements enumerated in IRS Publication 526 are met.


On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 3:25 PM, rkt88edmo <rkt88edmo at gmail.com> wrote:
> I do tax work for a living but don't specialize in indivdual taxation
> and am not a member but have been to the space.
> Since you didn't receive any goods or services from Noisebridge that
> aren't available to the general public you do not need to reduce your
> charitable donation deduction.  I wouldn't bother with assigning shelf
> space a dollar value unless "Noisebridge-the-official-legal-entity"
> makes a policy to do so or you really feel that it really is of
> substantial monetary value.
> Given the full membership rate I would encourge anyone who itemizes
> their deductions and who will deduct their Noisebridge membership dues
> to document the transactions and obtain the tax ID number of
> Noisebridge.  Even better would be a letter or receipt from
> Noisebridge with letterhead stating it is 501(c)3, including the TIN
> documenting amount of cash or cash value of property contributed;
> which I would hope you could obtain be if you do-ocratically drafted
> it yourself and present it to the treasurer via email or at a meeting.
>  If you did either of those I doubt any CPA would have trouble with
> you taking the donation.
> I can answer questions offline if you have any.
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Ryan Castellucci http://ryanc.org/

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