Failure to Disclose Adjusted Basis on Disclosure Form Costs Taxpayer $33M+ Charitable Deduction

by Charles (Chuck) Rubin

Under Treas. Regs. §1.170A-13, taxpayers making substantial noncash charitable contributions are required to disclose information regarding the contribution on Form 8283.

In March 2002, a partnership paid $2.95 million to acquire a remainder interest in property. A year and a half later, it assigned the interest to a university and claimed a charitable deduction of $33,019,000. The Form 8283 that the taxpayer submitted with its income tax return to disclose the contribution required the donor to provide the “Donor’s cost or other adjusted basis,” but the partnership left that disclosure blank.

The IRS sought to disallow the deduction for the taxpayer’s failing to meet the reporting requirements. The taxpayer responded with a substantial compliance argument.

On review, the Tax Court held a taxpayer can raise substantial compliance, since the applicable regulations are directory and not mandatory. Reviewing other case law, the Tax Court noted that in determining whether there was substantial compliance the court considers whether the taxpayer provided sufficient information to permit the IRS to evaluate the reported contributions, with an eye to the purpose of the substantiation requirements. That purpose is to alert the IRS, in advance of audit, of potential overvaluations of contributed property and thereby deter taxpayers from claiming excessive deductions in the hope they would not be audited. The court went on to comment that given the significant disparity between the claimed fair market value of the contributed property and the price paid for the property just 17 months earlier, had the basis of the property been disclosed it would have alerted the IRS to a potential overvaluation of the contributed property. Since the missing information kept the IRS from being able to evaluate its reported contribution without an audit, the Tax Court determined that substantial compliance could not be used to save the taxpayer from having its deduction disallowed.




DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Charles (Chuck) Rubin, Gutter Chaves Josepher Rubin Forman Fleisher P.A. | Attorney Advertising

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