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Saturday, May 24, 2008


While not a big dollar item, the IRS has released a letter it issued to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the ability of a constituent to deduct amounts paid to the State of Minnesota for a special license plate relating to the conservation of natural habitats. In the letter, the IRS noted that Minnesota charges an extra $30 over the regular license plate fees for such habitat license plates, and that the $30 is used to buy and manage habitats for public uses, such as hiking and hunting.

The letter goes on to conclude that when a taxpayer, with the intention of making a gift, purchases an item from a qualified charity, the excess of the payment made over the value received is a charitable contribution for the excess. Since many states offer special license plates whose fees are dedicated to charitable causes, the extra fees should thus be eligible for income tax charitable contribution deductions.

While the letter does not give any cites to the Internal Revenue Code, the statutory support for this deduction is presumably IRC Section 170(c)(1), which includes as a deductible charitable contribution payments to a state for exclusively public purposes.

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