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My wife volunteers for a charitable organization and her role involves a lot of printing and copying. I want to buy her a new laser printer as she wastes a lot of time fighting with our crappy inkjet.

I know "printing expenses" for charity can be deducted, but can the purchase of the printer be deducted, or maybe some estimated percentage of the purchase price that matches what percentage it will be used for volunteer work?

3

I would suggest to buy your own printer, and calculate the cost for a page including the wear to the printer. Then either deduce these printing expenses, or ask the charity to reimburse you.

This is not much different than when you would go to a copyshop, those easily charge 10-30c per page, with your own printer you can probably get it around 5-10c per page, including paper, toner, drum, and amortization.

The advantage is that when you do use the printer for other purposes, you wont get into any problems with who owns the printer or deductions.

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  • Be sure to carefully read the material in IRS Pub. 526 and consider whether the cost of printing is a "noncash contribution" or an "out-of-pocket expense". In either case there are rather strict documentation rules. I'm not sure either applies exactly, since the charity doesn't really receive an item with tangible market value, and you can't point to a specific transaction with a receipt (unless you are self-dealing). – Nate Eldredge Apr 14 '15 at 23:05
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To be safe you should donate the printer to the charity. Or even better, have the charity purchase it and you donate a equivalent number of dollars directed towards purchasing the equipment.

Once your wife no longer volunteers with the charity it should be returned to the charity because they own it.

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  • I was afraid of this answer. It is a lot of hoops to jump threw and it places unnecessary work burdens on the charity, but I am afraid you are right. +1 – Pablitorun Apr 14 '15 at 17:19
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    @Pablitorun frankly, if you are donating stuff to them, they should definitely be welcoming and jump through any hoop necessary… – o0'. Apr 14 '15 at 22:05
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Costs for home / small business equipment under US$10,000 don't have to be capitalized. They can be expensed (that is, claimed as an expense all in one year.) Unless this printer is one of those behemoths that collates, folds, staples, and mails medium-sized booklets, it cost less than that.

Keep track of your costs. Ask the charity to pay you those costs for the product you generate, and then donate that amount of money back to them.

This will be good for the charity because they'll correctly account for the cost of printing.

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