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Bargain sale land purchase and charitable deduction, is this a bad idea?

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Bargain sale land purchase and charitable deduction, is this a bad idea?

Our 501(c)(3) is interested in purchasing some land as a bargain sale where the land owner could then take a charitable deduction of the difference between sale price and fair market value. The ministry wants to in turn sell the land to a family member who is going to build a house. Are there any problems with this, especially in the area of selling the land to a party in interest?

This sounds like a really bad idea if the intent is to have one person sell property to a family member for a reduced price and try to take a contribution deduction for the difference.
The donor will need to obtain an independent appraisal to support the charitable contribution deduction (See Ready Reference Page: "IRS Requires Substantiation of Contributions) If either the donor or the purchaser is a "disqualified person" with respect to the organization, the organization will want to follow the IRS "safe harbor" procedures to be sure that neither is obtaining an excess benefit. (See Ready Reference Page: "Charities Must Avoid Excess Benefit Transactions.") If the sale price is not at least the fair market value that the donor claimed on the deduction, the donor may have a problem with the deduction, the purchaser may have an excess benefit, and the organization may have a problem with providing private benefit or with giving away charitable assets at less than full value. Sounds like a good transaction to avoid.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

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