Are Dues a Charitable Deduction?

It’s tax time, so the question comes up for 501 (c) (3) organizations; can I promote deducting dues as a charitable contribution?

Here is what the IRS says, “You may be able to deduct membership fees or dues you pay to a qualified organization. However, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the benefits you receive. . . If you receive or expect to receive a financial or economic benefit as a result of making a contribution to a qualified organization, you cannot deduct the part of the contribution that represents the value of the benefit you receive.”

From my quick scan of the FAQ from a number of associations, not surprisingly, it looks like they believe that the value of their benefits is equal to the dues amount and therefore not deductible. For example, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers is a 501(c) (3) and includes the following on its web site.

“Q: Are my ASME membership dues deductible?
A: ASME dues are not deductible as a charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes, but may be deductible as a business expense. ASME estimates that 0.503% of your dues are not deductible because of ASME's lobbying activities on behalf of its members. ASME recommends that you contact your accountant for tax advice.”

Now deductibility as a business expense would still apply to a professional membership after removing lobbying expenses. However, I along with ASME recommend that you contact your accountant for tax advice.

Are any of your organizations handling this differently?

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