The Charitable Contribution of a Home A Deduction up in Smoke?

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The CPA Journal


Some tax advisors have, for many years, advised individuals that they can take a charitable contribution deduction for the value of a building (typically, a personal residence) donated to a municipality. In most cases, the municipality used the donated residence for police or firefighter training, destroying the residence and removing all debris in the process. The individual ended up with a clear lot on which to build a new residence and often enjoyed a handsome tax deduction as well. An older U.S. Tax Court decision arguably supported this tax planning strategy, and the IRS appears not to have challenged it for many years. But more recent court decisions have rejected this strategy—or, at least, have dramatically limited its value. Moreover, certain statutory and regulatory provisions—as yet unaddressed by courts—might likewise prove fatal to the strategy. it is useful for CPAs advising taxpayers on charitable deductions to remain aware of the strategy's prior judicial support, recent related developments, and a few unanswered questions. There are also several tips that can help preserve some of the individual's deduction.

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New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants

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