Deductibility of non-profit museum, etc. membership dues


R

Rich Carreiro

We're members of the New England Aquarium. Like most
museum/zoo/park/etc. memberships, this entitles us to unlimited free
visits during the year, discounts on food and gift shop purchases, and
so on. IIRC, a family membership is $125 (I didn't go back and check
for this post).

A few weeks after joining, we got a letter from the Aquarium stating
that $17 of the $125 represented goods and services provided and
therefore only $108 was deductible.

How the heck do they arrive at the $17? It seems way too low -- if we
visit the aquarium two or three times in the course of a year the
membership has already paid for itself, and everything after that is
gravy.

I am/have been a member of other non-profit museums where they say
right up front when joining that the entire dues are tax-deductible
(though they also entitle you to unlimited free visits).

But I've also been a member of non-profit museums where nothing is
said or claimed about dues deductibility and no letter is ever sent.
So presumably none of the dues to those places are considered
charitable contributions.

So what makes membership dues considered charitable contributions or
not, and how is the non-deductible "goods and services" value arrived
at?
 
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B

Barry Margolin

Rich Carreiro said:
We're members of the New England Aquarium. Like most
museum/zoo/park/etc. memberships, this entitles us to unlimited free
visits during the year, discounts on food and gift shop purchases, and
so on. IIRC, a family membership is $125 (I didn't go back and check
for this post).

A few weeks after joining, we got a letter from the Aquarium stating
that $17 of the $125 represented goods and services provided and
therefore only $108 was deductible.

How the heck do they arrive at the $17? It seems way too low -- if we
visit the aquarium two or three times in the course of a year the
membership has already paid for itself, and everything after that is
gravy.
I'll bet they came up with that number based on average visits per
contributor. I used to donate to the Computer Museum before it moved
into the Museum of Science, but I think I only visited it once, shortly
after it first opened (back when it was on the Warf).
 
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M

Mark Freeland

We're members of the New England Aquarium. Like most
museum/zoo/park/etc. memberships, this entitles us to unlimited free
visits during the year, discounts on food and gift shop purchases, and
so on. IIRC, a family membership is $125 (I didn't go back and check
for this post).

A few weeks after joining, we got a letter from the Aquarium stating
that $17 of the $125 represented goods and services provided and
therefore only $108 was deductible.

How the heck do they arrive at the $17?
The answer is here (FAQ: Is any part of my membership deductible):
http://www.neaq.org/membership_and_giving/membership/membership_faq.php#deductible

They deduct the value of IMAX member passes (and nothing else - the
giving society levels default to full deductibility and no passes).
Assuming their website is current, it looks like you have Patron level
membership ($135) - admission for four, and two IMAX passes, which
reduce the deductible amount by 2 x $7.75.

http://www.neaq.org/membership_and_giving/membership/membership_levels.php

Mark Freeland
 

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