Nonprofit Resources


Top 3 “Yes” Responses from our Annual Higher Ed Tax Survey

Our annual Higher Education Tax Reporting Trends Project surveys institutions across the nation on key higher ed tax reporting issues.

This year, we asked nine questions on topics ranging from athletic facilities to artwork. We received responses from 167 institutions in 36 states and Washington, D.C.

Here’s a look at the three survey questions with the highest percentage of “yes” answers.

1. Artwork on Campus

Survey results: Not surprisingly, higher ed campuses are home to many types of art. This survey question garnered the most “yes” responses, with 81.44% of respondents stating that they have paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, ceramics, antiques, decorative arts, textiles, carpets, silver, photography, film, video, installation and multimedia arts, rare books and manuscripts, historical memorabilia, or similar objects on campus.

Why it matters: You may need to report donations of artwork to the IRS. Check out the white paper for details, plus some beautiful examples of art on campuses!

2. Token Items Given to Donors

Survey results: Nearly three-quarters — 73.49% — of our survey respondents indicated that in the past three years, their institution has taken advantage of the exception for giving “token items” to donors without having to provide them the value of those items on their donor receipts. These are items of insubstantial value such as pens, coffee mugs, and books with the school’s logo.

Why it matters: This is a good way to thank donors without generating a lot of extra work for your institution.

The deductible amount for “insubstantial benefits to donors” for 2018 increased by an amount that kept pace with increases in past years. See the white paper for details.

3. On-premises Athletic Facilities Used by Faculty and Staff

Survey results: When asked whether their institution has “on-premises” gym, workout, or athletic facilities used by faculty or staff, 69.46% of the survey respondents answered yes.

Why it matters: Section 13703 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a provision whereby the market value of providing exercise facilities (and specific other fringe benefits) to staff and faculty would be considered unrelated business income that must be reported on Form 990-T. However, there is a “glitch” in the for-profit side of this provision (IRC section 274) that renders the “on-premises athletic facilities” clause inapplicable.

Also, as the white paper explains, while this sounds like it will result in a lot more unrelated business income tax, higher education institutions may have an out.

Download your free copy of the 2018 Higher Education Tax Reporting Trends Project white paper for additional insight on these statistics and other higher ed tax issues. 

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