Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I just purchased 6 raffle tickets for the annual Theatre Development Fund raffle. I participate every year. TDF offers some great prizes, including the Grand PriZe of a pair of tickets to five Broadway shows during the “season” (it used to be every show opening during the season).

TDF is a qualified charitable organization to which contributions are tax deductible.

However the cost of my 6 raffle tickets is not deductible as a charitable contribution on Schedule A – even if I do have a hard copy receipt from TDF for my payment as well as documentation via a credit card statement.

By purchasing a raffle ticket from TDF, or any church or charity, I am not making a voluntary charitable contribution to the organization. I am gambling. I am purchasing the chance to win one of the 50 prizes offered by TDF. It is exactly the same as purchasing a NJ Lottery. By purchasing a lottery ticket I am certainly not making a contribution to the Treasury of the State of New Jersey (the last place that I would voluntarily contribute money is the Treasury of the State of New Jersey – NJ politicians are fat enough on graft and pork as it is!).

Many of the lists of charitable contributions, or receipts for charitable contributions, that clients provide me with each tax season include the cost of raffle or 50-50 tickets for their church or a charity. If they itemize I do not include these amounts in the deduction claimed for charitable contributions on Schedule A.

The cost of a raffle ticket may be deductible as a gambling loss if you are also reporting gross gambling winnings on Page 1 of your 1040. Gambling losses, only to the extent of gambling winnings, are deductible on Schedule A as a “miscellaneous” deduction - not subject to the 2% of AGI exclusion.

So if I win $1500 in the slots at Atlantic City I can deduct the $25 I paid for my 6 TDF raffle tickets as a gambling loss on Schedule A. But, to repeat, I cannot deduct the $25 as a charitable contribution.

In addition to purchasing raffle tickets I also make a contribution to TDF as part of their annual fund-raising campaign. I pay by check or via credit card charge. This payment is deductible.
Speaking of both Broadway and gambling - the TONY Award nominations have been announced. HAIR has received 8 nominations including Best Revival of a Musical.
I have tickets for HAIR for the Saturday evening before the TONY presentations. Each year I attend a Broadway show with friends on the Saturday night before the TONY show - and each year for the past few years the show I have seen on Saturday night, or a performer from the show (or both), has won a prominent TONY Award on Sunday night - for example GYPSY, PAJAMA GAME, CURTAINS to name the most recent winners.
Anyone out there willing to take my bet that HAIR will win as Best Revival of a Musical?

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