Tax questions

February 17, 2000

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

I am in a band that plays at my church. Can I deduct the cost of the music I purchase that is for use by the band?

This is a factual determination that depends on who owns the music. In order for there to be a valid contribution, you must absolutely and unconditionally divest yourself of ownership. If you do transfer ownership to the church, you are entitled to a charitable deduction. However, if you retain ownership and only permit the church to use your property no deduction is allowed.

A taxpayer is also allowed a charitable deduction for unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenditures made in rendering gratuitous services to a charitable organization. Expenses incurred for the benefit of the charity and not reimbursed may qualify as deductions. So, items such as postage, office supplies and similar expenses can be deducted if you incurred them for the benefit of the charity.

Bill Cronin, CPA, Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra Chtd.

The above advice is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting or tax advice. Specific situations may vary.

To ask a tax question, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at 410-783-1800. Call 410-268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 410-836-5028 in Harford County, 410-848-0338 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 through The Sun's Web site, www.sunspot.net. Click on Business.

Selected questions will be answered in the Business section. No questions will be answered personally.

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