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Are library fines tax deductible?

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expatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:15 AM
Original message
Are library fines tax deductible?

After a little reseaqrch you cannot deduct "fines imposed under a law of the Commonwealth, a state, a territory, a foreign country or by a court" but can deduct contributios to libraries. The question is whether a library "fine" is levied by an actual law of the county, city, state or is imposed only by the institution itself with the only "penalty" being a loss of privileges within that institution (i.e. no more checking books out).

If I owe $20 bucks am I legally obligated to pay the fine, in which case it would not be tax deductible, or do I only "have" to pay the fine in order to remain in goodstanding with the library? I think this would depend on particular local and state laws, no?
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expatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:19 AM
Response to Original message
1. UPDATE: Colorado library fines are backed up by state law....

NOTICE: WE ARE REQUIRED BY STATE LAW TO REFER ALL PAST DUE LIBRARY FINES AND LOST BOOK REPLACEMENT CHARGES TO THE STATE OF COLORADO FOR COLLECTION

http://www.colorado.edu/Law/lawlib/circulation.htm
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rzemanfl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
2. They would be if you couldn't get to the library because of
a disaster to the extent that the fine exceeded both $100 and 10% of your income. The hurricanes taught me that casualty losses are a federal joke on the public.
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Disfronted Donating Member (100 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:23 AM
Response to Original message
3. I'm pretty sure it is non-deductible
Even if you are not legally required to pay the fine, by paying it you are receiving a benefit (being allowed to check out library books again) and as such it would not be a charitable contribution.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:26 AM
Response to Original message
4. i'd claim it
Edited on Sat Mar-05-05 09:28 AM by unblock
but i have no pertinent tax or legal licenses.

my mother's an attorney, and her general tax advice on questionable deductions is: as long as you have a plausible theory that would justify the deduction, and you can document that that was your intent, then go ahead and claim the deduction.

the worst that will happen is that, in an audit, they decide the deduction was not valid, so you would have to pay it, plus interest and maybe plus penalty (which typically just means, in effect, a higher interest rate). as long as your intent was clearly to comply with tax law, even if you didn't actually comply with tax law, you're not going to have serious problems (read: prison).

personally, whenever i have any questionable deduction, i write an explanation and include it in my filing. that way they have a record of my intent to comply.


in the case at hand, i can't see you going to prison over claiming library fines as a deduction....


all that aside, library fines are, at a minimum, not completely involuntary, so i think you're on reasonably firm ground.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
5. we're talking about fifteen cents here, right?
out of curiosity just how much in library fines did you pay, and how did you rack up that amount?

if you ever thought "so what if they make me pay a fine, the library is a worthy institution and could make good use of some extra money" then your intent was similar to making a pledge to any other charity.
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slor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Amen...
I work part-time at a Library, and we should all support this kind of institution, whether through donations, or by keeping circulation up, and expanding your mind in the process.
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Disfronted Donating Member (100 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Generally, intent is irrelevent to whether something is deductible n/t
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. correct, but it IS relevent to the the penalty for being wrong.
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Disfronted Donating Member (100 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 10:12 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. certainly n/t
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