I was told recently by a florist that if she donated flowers to a charity gala she could not get a tax deduction because they were a perishable item. I have never heard this before about in-kind donations. Can you shed some light on this?
Your florist friend is sort of right, although not for the reason that she cites. She doesn’t get much tax benefit from a gift of flowers to a charity gala because she can deduct only her tax basis (her cost) of the flowers when she makes a gift of inventory. She might get a bump up in the amount of the deduction (basically equal to half the profit she would have made if she had sold them in her business) if the gifts are used by the recipient charity “solely for the care of the ill, the needy, or infants.” She might get a bump up if she gave flowers to a charitable hospital for placement in patient rooms, but giving them for a charity fundraising gala would not meet that requirement. These are the general rules for deductions of gifts of inventory and don’t have anything to do with the fact that the flowers are perishable. She would have the same result if the flowers were ceramic and came from inventory.
But she is correct about what may matter most to her. She wouldn’t get much tax benefit from a gift of inventory in this situation.