I recently heard that when making a donation to a tax-exempt organization, in order the get a tax deduction, the donor cannot earmark the funds for a particular purpose. I don’t believe this is true as I have heard of it as a customary practice among donors. Is it true?
Yes you can and it is still tax deductible.
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Real Estate Attorney
It depends on what the earmark benefits. If it is for something general, but related to the operation of the charitable mission, then yes. If it is limited to benefit the donor, or the donor's friends or family, then no. Please consult an attorney before accepting. Also, when in doubt call the IRS.
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Corporate / Incorporation Lawyer
Donors are allowed to "restrict" their gifts to a charity for a specific purpose. The charity - if run well - will have a gift acceptance policy that will give them guidance on whether or not to accept your restricted gift and an appropriate accounting system to distinguish between unrestricted and restricted donations.
As to tax deductibility, if the charity accepts your gift, it should be tax deductible. As a previous attorney posted, there are exceptions for self-dealing transactions, but in general any cash donation made to a 501(c)(3) public charity is deductible on the donors' personal income taxes.
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