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Can I Deduct Donations Made In My Name?

When I worked at Northrop Grumman, they always celebrated National Engineer’s Week [3] with a token gift to employees and some cake in the cafeteria. While I was there, I think I received things like a laser pointer and an insulated lunch bag. More recently, they’ve made donations to the STEM Education Coalition [4], a very worthy coalition that works to improve Scient, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education.

The question posed by one of my friends is whether or not they could deduct that donation, made in their name, on their taxes.

Unfortunately, no.

By definition, only the person who makes the actual donation is permitted to take a deduction on their tax return. If I were to donate to a qualified charitable organization in your name, only I could take the deduction because I made the contribution. You may get the recognition, but I get the tax benefit. If I were to give you the money and you made the contribution, then you could deduct it on your personal tax return.

How this works in practice is that if I made a donation in your name, I would receive the receipt indicating I made the contribution and that serves as documentation of the contribution. You, despite having your name appear on the gift, would get no such receipt and so you cannot deduct it.

Yay taxes!