Tax questions

February 10, 2000

Members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants are answering readers' tax questions through April 15.

Q. I mailed a charitable contribution to a college on Dec. 24. I sent a check dated 12/24/1999. The college was closed for the week between Christmas and New Year's. So, the acknowledgment that I received from the college was dated Jan. 4, 2000. It said the gift was received on Jan. 4, 2000. Is my contribution deductible for the year 1999 or year 2000?

A. Your contribution is deductible for income tax purposes in 1999. As the Internal Revenue Service's own regulations state: "The unconditional delivery or mailing of a check which subsequently clears in the due course will constitute an effective contribution on the date of delivery or mailing." I think a Jan. 4 clearance date meets the definition of clearing in due course. Your problem may be one of proving to an examining agent that you in fact mailed it in 1999. Proof of mailing can be established with a stamped receipt obtained from the post office at the time of mailing. Lacking a proper mailing receipt, you might wish to get the college to give you a letter stating that their business office was closed during the week in question.

Lambert G. Boyce Jr. CPA, CFP, Clifton Gunderson LLC, Timonium

To ask a tax question, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6225 after the greeting. You can also submit questions by e-mail to: Click on Business.

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