Reply To: Would this come under Step Transaction Doctrine

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#1332
Kaye Thomas
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Congratulations! You’re number 1!

Did you really think there were enough fans of Mitt Romney here that someone would steal your login?

For those who are wondering, in this context, DAF is donor advised fund, basically a private foundation without the prestige — or the headaches. You contribute to a fund qualifying as a public charity that keeps your dollars in a separate account and agrees to consider (and as a practical matter, nearly always follow) your subsequent advice as to disbursement of those dollars to one or more operating charities. Presumably the goal here is to allow B to claim a charitable deduction that would be of no value on A’s tax return.

I don’t think step transaction is the concern here. IRS would likely argue there was no completed gift from A to B, because the donation was prearranged, and B was merely acting as A’s agent. Even if there is a reasonable time lag between the two transactions, the IRS has a strong argument based on the fact that A controls the DAF, together with the fact that what B gave to the DAF is what A gifted to B. Issues like these are fact-based, of course, and it would help if A has a history of gifts to B that are not transferred to A’s DAF, or if B for some reason has a history of contributing to A’s DAF from B’s separate resources. It would be harder for IRS to challenge if, after a reasonable time lag, B contributes to a DAF controlled by B, with the understanding that B would value A’s subsequent thoughts on how to advise the charity on disbursement of this fund. There are various reasons A might not like this idea, but they would have to be weighed against the audit risk in the structure as originally proposed.