Forbes “Bucket List” of Tax Deductions Seems Less Than Charitable

June 25, 2012; Source: Forbes

Say it ain’t so, Kelly! Kelly Phillips Erb, a writer for Forbes, has a list of 15 potential tax write-offs that you might want to try, but these tax tips are drawn from your typical “bucket list” of desired pre-death activities. Somehow, combining a bucket list with tax avoidance never came to me as I contemplated a house in Tuscany after retirement.

But Kelly has ideas, and some of them come with grafting your bucket onto charity:

  • Kelly’s suggestion #7: “Roll the dice at Atlantic City or Vegas. You can deduct your traveling costs only if you’re in a gambling mecca on a legitimate business trip or for volunteer work—not just for fun. But if you itemize, you can deduct your gambling losses, up to the amount of your winnings.”

  • Kelly’s suggestion #10: “Adopt a child. If you’ve always wanted a child—or you’re ready to raise another—consider adoption. You may be entitled to a tax credit to offset—dollar for dollar—up to $12,650 in qualified adoption expenses…”

  • Kelly’s suggestion #12: “Start a scholarship fund for your alma mater…To be deductible, charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations: Most colleges and universities fall into that category.”

  • Kelly’s suggestion #14: “Go golfing/horseback riding/surfing. The tax law generally imposes restrictions on deductions for business and charitable expenses when there is a personal pleasure element. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule, if the main purpose of a sports event is to benefit a qualified charity, the entire net proceeds go to the charity and volunteers perform substantially all the event’s work.”

One of Kelly Phillips Erb’s roles at Forbes is to make reading about taxes fun. Her bucket list suggestions have that fun feel, to be sure. Nonetheless, something about the suggestion of using charity as a cover for some of the bucket items feels a little uncharitable. I will never be able to afford that villa in Tuscany, all things considered, but I don’t think I’ll be angling for a charitable deduction if the opportunity for a little abode in Lucca, Pisa, or Siena ever happens.—Rick Cohen