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Tax Deductions for Cause-Related Marketing

Anup Malani and M. Todd Henderson, two professors at the University of Chicago Law School, proposed in the March 10, 2008 issue of Forbes magazine that individuals be allowed tax deductions for the donations made when they buy products that generate a donation to a charitable cause.

Here’s what they say:
“We think the tax law should be changed to equalize the deduction shareholders get for corporate and personal contribution. Individuals should also be allowed to deduct donations embedded in consumer products. Firms are increasingly doing good because shareholders and consumers want them to, and taxes should not favor one form of doing good over another.”

Why?
“Consumer charity is inefficient under our present tax code. If you pay $15 for
a pound of fair-trade coffee instead of $10 for regular coffee, you can’t claim
a deduction for the $5 difference. The additional cost is a nondeductible
donation.

Let me be perfectly upfront and say that I owe both these lawyers a wet, sloppy kiss.

I never dared wish that someone outside the cause-related marketing fold would propose a tax deduction for the donation individuals make when they buy a product or service that has a charitable donation built into its price.

Certainly when it comes to writing the actual law some wrinkles would have to be ironed out. It’s hard to imagine getting some kind of tax receipt when you commission a piece of music from Cantilena Music and a donation of $825 goes to a hearing cause, much less trying to figure out how many cartons of Yoplait you consumed in year with $.10 per going to Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

And it’s fair to say that any such bill would face certain opposition from legislators like Senator Chuck Grassley (R) Iowa. Senator Grassley is kind of the bĂȘte noire of nonprofits these days.

But I love this idea.



Who else do I have to kiss to make it happen?

Comments

Tom Nicholas said…
To close the loop, the merchant would need to ensure the sales receipt is itemized to show the specific contribution and the recipient.

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