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I am part of a rowing club in the US and pay a membership fee. The rowing club is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, open to the public, and offers learn-to-row classes. The benefits that I receive for my membership fee are access to club facilities, use of club equipment, and coaching (coaches are paid). How do I determine what portion of my membership fee is tax-deductible if any?

IRS publication #526 says this:

Contributions From Which You Benefit
...
Membership fees or dues. You may be able to deduct membership fees or dues you pay to a qualified organization. However, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the benefits you receive. You cannot deduct dues, fees, or assessments paid to country clubs and other social organizations. They are not qualified organizations.

Certain membership benefits can be disregarded. Both you and the organization can disregard certain membership benefits you get in return for an annual payment of $75 or less to the qualified organization. The benefits that can be disregarded are:

  1. Any rights or privileges, other than those discussed under Athletic events, earlier, that you can use frequently while you are a member, such as:

    a. Free or discounted admission to the organization's facilities or events,
    b. Free or discounted parking,
    c. Preferred access to goods or services, and
    d. Discounts on the purchase of goods and services.

Does use of club equipment fall under 1a? What about coaching?

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If it's a local organization, you can ask the treasurer. They file taxes on behalf of the organization, so they may have more insight on this.

Can the public have access to the same coaching you do? I suppose that if you have preferred access to this coaching, then you can justify it under (c) if your membership fee is $75 or less. But if you're paying more than $75 per year, I'd say that all bets are off and that you'd have to determine the true value of what you receive as a member and deduct that from your membership fee to see what part, if any, is tax deductible.

Also, I'd make completely sure that your membership fees go directly to a 501(c)(3). Some civic organizations, which are 501(c)(4), go through the extra burden of forming 501(c)(3) foundations so that they can accept donations that are tax-deductible for the donor. Our Lions Club has not done this, so when we accept donations it is our responsibility to remind the donor that the donation is not tax-deductible.

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The most likely answer in NONE. The rowing club is for all intents and purposes a social organization.

I belong to the local Elks lodge and used to belong to the local YMCA. The dues for neither was deductible, but the donations above and beyond dues absolutely were deductible.

So, in your case, if you donate above the dues, or the dues explicitly include a portion for charitable support, those would likely be deductible.

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From further down in IRS Pub #526

The organization determines whether the value of an item or benefit is substantial by using Revenue Procedures 90-12 and 92-49 and the inflation adjustment in Revenue Procedure 2009-50.

Written statement.

A qualified organization must give you a written statement if you make a payment to it that is more than $75 and is partly a contribution and partly for goods or services. The statement must tell you that you can deduct only the amount of your payment that is more than the value of the goods or services you received. It must also give you a good faith estimate of the value of those goods or services. The organization can give you the statement either when it solicits or when it receives the payment from you.

It is the responsibility of the organization to provide you with the information you need.

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