Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tax Deductible

As much as I like Seth Godin, he's recently given people some bad tax advice or at least inferred it. He's offering 3,000 free review copies of his upcoming book Linchpin to people who donate at least $30 to Acumen, an organization dedicated to eliminating poverty.

They're well on their way to meeting their goal of raising $100,000, which is great.

The problem is his unclear statement that you get a tax deduction for the donation. Tax laws state that if you make a donation in exchange for a gift, the portion of that gift that coincides with the value of the gift is not deductible. If the gift is a surprise to the donor, the full amount is deductible. In this case, the donations are specifically being made in order to obtain a copy of the book. That means you're buying the book.

I suppose a portion of the $30 would likely be deductible but not all of it. The book is currently listed on Amazon for $17, so you would probably get a tax deduction of $13. At the same time, the $30 minimum must be met in order to qualify for the 'free' book, which may in fact mean the entire thing is not deductible even though it's more than the value of the book. But don't take my word for it. Or Seth's. Talk to your accountant. Pony up for charity and get yourself a copy of the book either way, but be careful about actually claiming it on your taxes.

1 comment:

B Flat Major said...

Same with Girl Scout cookies. Those sneaky little girls always claim it's a deduction, but it's not. It's buying cookies.