Charitable Services Should Be Tax Deductible

, New York Law Journal

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Conrad Teitell's excellent article "Charitable Deductions for Volunteers" (NYLJ, Dec. 27), makes reference to the often overlooked issue of the long-standing refusal of the IRS to allow deductions for volunteer "services" because, from a legal perspective, "services" are not "property." It's time for a change. According to the latest available statistics, in 2011 some 64 million Americans donated 7.9 billion hours of free labor to various charitable, 501(c)(3) organizations. Without that free labor these organizations would have had to divert precious funding to pay employees to do the job.

It is indeed paradoxical and somewhat ironic that a good-hearted person who donates $100 to a charity to help defray the salary of an employee can deduct the $100 donation on his or her tax return but if that same individual did the work of the employee he or she would not be able to take any charitable deduction on his or her tax return for the services provided.

It is often said that people of goodwill would make charitable donations of money and property even if there was no tax deduction, and while that may be true, the fact is that until such time as Congress decides to no longer allow charitable deductions, simple fairness mandates that both property and services be treated equally.

Howard S. Davis
The author is pro bono attorney,
Legal Services for Disabled Children.

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