Before you try to write off that donation you made to your local PTA, it's important to know if your contribution is tax-deductible. Under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) PTAs qualify as charitable organizations to which you may make tax-deductible gifts. That doesn't mean, however, that every gift of any sort to any PTA group is tax-deductible.
Generally, under the Internal Revenue Code for nonprofit charitable gifts, any contribution you make and for which you receive nothing of value in return is tax-deductible.
So, for example, if you're at a fundraiser and you win an auction for a $50 gift card from a restaurant for your bid of $70, you can deduct $20 as a gift. If you simply donated the $50 to the fundraising drive, it would be all tax-deductible.
Generally the same rules apply for businesses that apply for individuals. If your business receives something in return for your donation, it is not tax-deductible. If you donate a $50 gift card that may be used at your restaurant, the full amount is deductible. If a printing company donated cash to a PTA and the acknowledgement reads like an advertisement, the print shop receives something of value for its donation, so it is not tax-deductible. If the acknowledgement lists only the name, address and phone number of the print shop, it's considered a donation.
PTA volunteers who promote and organize activities can deduct unreimbursed expenses for meals, travel, phone calls, etc. For example, If you are reimbursed $100 for travel while on PTA business but you spent $500, all related to PTA business, you can deduct the remaining $400 as a charitable contribution.
Any cash gift over $75 must have a cash receipt. The PTA's tax ID should appear on the receipt. You should always ask for a receipt for noncash gifts. The IRS requires an independent appraisal for noncash gifts valued at more than $5,000.
John DeSimone is a published fiction and nonfiction writer. He has contributed to regional newspapers and authored several books. DeSimone also teaches writing at two universities in Southern California.