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Can I Get a Tax Break for Supporting My Alma Mater’s Football Team?

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Previously, if you made a donation to a university that gave you the right to buy tickets to a sporting event, sometimes known as personal seat licenses (PSL), you could deduct 80% of that donation from your taxes. If you received tickets in return for your donation, you could deduct the donation less the value of those tickets.

When the  tax reform law was passed, it repealed that rule. Instead of claiming 80% of the donation for the PSL as a deduction, you cannot claim any of the donation as a deduction, beginning with your tax years 2018 – 2025.

So, what if you still want to support your alma mater’s football team and get a tax deduction?

Other Donations are Still Tax Deductible

Although the new tax reform law did away with the tax deduction of personal seat licenses (PSLs) or seating for sporting events, it didn’t impact other opportunities to donate to a university’s sports program while reaping the benefit of a tax deduction. If you support the booster club, attend charity dinners, or donate items to raffles, those donations are tax deductible.

If you do support the booster club, you’ll want to do your homework on the organization since it’s not formally part of the university. At a minimum, ensure the booster club is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization. If you give a donation and get anything in return, you’ll want to reduce the amount of your deduction by the value of the item.

Like any donation, get appropriate documentation of your donation. This can be in the form of a canceled check if you donated less than $250. If it’s more than $250, you will want something from the university that includes the amount, date, and what, if anything, you received in return – this will be sufficient to support your donation.

Donate to the University

Donations to a university can be tax deductible as long as they are a 501(c)(3) organization and you can itemize your tax deductions. Universities generally fit into a 501(c)(3) organization because of their educational purposes but always confirm this before making a contribution.

If you want to make a donation to a particular sport or club at the university, you can. Most universities will let you designate your donation to go to that sport or club and when your funds are transferred, they are moved to the appropriate account. This is especially useful for sports and clubs that don’t have their own fundraising person and don’t get a lot of donations.

These donations can be 100% tax deductible subject to adjusted gross income limits.

*Certain charitable contributions of cash to a public charity or organization are now subject to a limitation of 60% of your adjusted gross income, up from a 50% limitation. Any excess can be carried forward into future years. This applies to any charitable contribution, whether it’s to your alma mater or local church.

So despite the most recent tax law change impacting sporting event seats, you can still make many other tax-deductible donations to your university’s sports programs.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. TurboTax asks you simple questions about you and gives you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers. If you have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. TurboTax Live CPAs and Enrolled Agents are available in English and Spanish and can also review, sign, and file your tax return

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