Taking a tax deduction for pay to play

BY WARREN HORTON

STAFF CONTRIBUTOR

Saving money for retirement, a special gift for the wife, a new toy, or pay to play should be carefully thought out when filing the annual taxes.

One way to save is to reduce a tax burden by donating to a charitable organization.  Depending on their tax status and deductibility, it can save that little bit of income that can be a blessing.

One issue recently brought to my attention was an article of how donors were giving money to charities, such as the Clinton Foundation.  When donating to a 501(c)(3) organization the idea, as I understand it, is to donate money yet expect nothing in return except for the good feeling of helping a charity.  This is where I am concerned.  If someone donates $500,000 to a charity, such as the Clinton Foundation, and in return receives a “pay-to-play” status, which allows that person to be introduced to a prominent government official, just saying here, isn’t that receiving a benefit or something back in return for their donation?  If this benefit is then confirmed by emails, again just saying, that were released by Guccifer 2.0, then is the donation a tax deduction since the donor received something in return?  Would then the donor be subject to an IRS audit and potential criminal prosecution for filing false tax returns?

Too many questions and not enough answers at this late hour.  In this wacky election year, I wonder if such a scenario could actually happen.

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