The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver, and the U.S. Tax Code says a cheerful giver loves the charitable contribution deduction. But according to the outcome of the recent case Durden v. Commissioner, the Tax Court hates both God and cheerful givers.
In 2007, the Durdens claimed a charitable contribution deduction of $22,517 for cash contributions to their church. Most individual contributions exceeded $2501.
Upon questioning by the IRS, the Durdens produced a letter from their church acknowledging the contributions, as well as canceled checks supporting the amounts of the claimed deduction.
The IRS declined to accept the [church's] acknowledgment [of the contributions] on the grounds that it did not contain the required statement under Sec. 170.
For donations of $250 or more […] the donor must obtain a contemporaneous written acknowledgment […], stating the amount of the contribution [and] whether the donee provided goods or services in consideration for the donation […]. If goods or services received consist solely of intangible religious benefits, the contemporaneous documentation must contain a statement to that effect.
The Durdens subsequently obtained a second written acknowledgment from their church with the required language.
The IRS [and the Tax Court] disregarded it because it did not meet the contemporaneous written acknowledgment requirement of Sec. 170(f)(8)(C), which defines contemporaneous as [something different than what they got]3.
2They're also sinners because Mr. Durden covets his neighbor's ox.