Regulations

Grossly overvalued real estate won’t qualify for charitable tax deduction

Real Estate Tax Talk

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What do you do when you own an apartment building that you want to get rid of but no one wants to buy? One strategy owners of undesirable properties often use is to give the property to a charity and take a charitable deduction on their taxes. If the contributed property’s valuation for tax purposes is high enough, the property owner can come out way ahead. However, the IRS is well aware of this strategy. There are a number of rules in place designed to prevent unrealistically high valuations of dilapidated property for charitable contributions purposes. Run afoul of these rules and you can lose your entire deduction. This is what happened to Ben Alli, a medical doctor who purchased for $353,000 two large apartment buildings in Detroit, Mich., at a 1983 HUD auction as part of HUD’s Section 8 program. Several years later, HUD inspectors determined that one of the buildings -- containing 34 units -- was in "deplorable and unsanitary" condition, and HUD subsequently foreclosed o...