In his column, Mr. O’Mahen argues that the tax deduction given to Michigan football fans for their purchases of new luxury seating options is unfairly subsidized by Joe Taxpayer (Subsidized Sports Fans, 09/28/2009). I’m unsure as to whether Mr. O’Mahen is suggesting we get rid of the tax incentive for making charitable contributions altogether or whether he’s simply upset with alumni who are spending their hard-earned money to make his school a better place. The former is inefficient and the latter unappreciative.

Charitable giving results in positive externalities to society. Thus, tax deductions for charitable giving are justifiable on the grounds of efficiency. In other words, giving a tax break to these donors allows them to donate a larger amount than they otherwise might, drawing even more money into the non-profit organizations that provide an obvious benefit to the public. Enhanced athletic facilities allow our team to train and perform better and provide a direct benefit to the hundreds of thousands of people that have ever felt the overwhelming sense of pride that comes with being a Michigan fan.

Mr. O’Mahen suggests making athletic boosters “pay for the fair market value of their club seats” when, by his own calculation, boosters would still be donating up to $52,600 (after a tax benefit of about $20,000) for these seats. As far as I’m concerned, this kind of support and generosity deserves a tip of the hat and a very sincere thank you from all who wear and bleed maize and blue.

Adam Heinlein
Alum

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