When it comes to claiming tax deductions for private foundation donations, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations to avoid common mistakes that could lead to penalties or rejection of your claim. 

Private foundations can provide significant tax benefits, but only if you follow the requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In this article, we will discuss some of the most common mistakes to avoid when claiming private foundation tax deductions

Failure to Properly Document Donations

One of the most crucial mistakes people make is not keeping accurate and proper documentation of their donations. 

To claim a tax deduction for a private foundation donation,  you must have a written acknowledgment from the organization that includes the amount of the donation, a description of any goods or services received in return, and a statement that no goods or services were provided, if applicable. Without this documentation, your deduction could be disallowed by the IRS. 

Inflating the Value of Donated Items

Another common mistake is inflating the value of donated items. When donating goods or services to a private foundation, you can only deduct the fair market value of the item. 

Some individuals mistakenly overvalue their donations in an attempt to increase their deductions. 

 However, this can lead to serious consequences if the IRS discovers the inflated value. It’s important to accurately assess the fair market value of your donations to avoid any potential issues. 

Ignoring the Percentage Limitations

The IRS sets specific percentage limitations on the amount you can deduct for private foundation contributions. 

Individuals can typically deduct up to 30% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) for cash contributions and up to 20% of their AGI for donated property.  

Corporations, on the other hand, can deduct up to 10% of their taxable income. Ignoring these limitations and claiming deductions that exceed the allowable percentages can result in penalties and potential audits. 

Failing to Meet the Public Support Test

Private foundations are subject to the public support test,  which requires them to receive a significant portion of their support from the general public or other exempt organizations.  

If a private foundation fails to meet this test,  it is classified as a private operating foundation and may face strict rules and limitations.

 It’s important to verify if the organization you are donating to qualifies as a public charity to ensure your deductions are valid. 

Giving to Non-Qualified Organizations

It’s crucial to verify that the organization you are donating to is a qualified tax-exempt organization. Private foundations can only deduct contributions made to organizations that are recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt

Many individuals make the mistake of giving to non-qualified organizations, resulting in disallowed deductions. The IRS provides a searchable database of tax-exempt organizations, known as the Exempt Organizations Select Check,  which you can use to verify an organization’s status. 


Claiming tax deductions for private foundation donations can be a complex process, but by avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your deductions are valid and in compliance with IRS regulations. 

Proper documentation, accurate valuation of donated items,  adherence to percentage limitations, meeting the public support test, and giving to qualified organizations are all essential factors to consider when claiming private foundation tax deductions. 

By understanding and following these rules, you can maximize your tax benefits while avoiding any unnecessary penalties or audits.  

By Grace