Van Dusen v. Commissioner - JAN ELIZABETH VAN DUSEN...

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JAN ELIZABETH VAN DUSEN, Petitioner v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondent UNITED STATES TAX COURT 136 T.C. No. 25 June 2, 2011 The IRS issued a notice of deficiency for 2004 to petitioner. The issue relates a $12,068 charitable-contribution deduction for Ms. Van Dusen's expenses of taking care of foster cats. FINDINGS OF FACT Van Dusen, a resident of Oakland, California, cared for cats in her private residence in 2004. Van Dusen volunteered for an organization called Fix Our Ferals and argues that her expenses for caring for cats qualify as charitable contributions. The parties stipulate that Fix Our Ferals is a section 501(c)(3) organization. Fix Our Ferals' mission is to engage in "trap-neuter-return" activities, which consist of trapping feral cats, neutering them, obtaining necessary medical treatments, and releasing them back into the wild. Fix Our Ferals enlists volunteers for these tasks. Fix Our Ferals periodically organizes spay/neuter clinics. After being neutered, the cats must be temporarily housed in volunteers' residences. After the cats recover and have received medical treatments, they usually are returned to the wild. Some cats cannot be safely returned to the wild. Typically those cats are young, sick, injured, elderly, or tame. Those cats must be cared for domestically. We refer to all care for trapped cats, including temporary housing while cats are recuperating from neutering, as "foster care". We refer to cats under foster care as "foster cats". Some of the cats that cannot be returned to the wild remain in foster care indefinite- ly. More often these cats are sick, or elderly. Fix Our Ferals encourages volunteers to provide long-term care for these cats in their homes. Fix Our Ferals' Administrative Structure Fix Our Ferals is decentralized. It has no formal administrative office. Instead, it uses a telephone hotline, a website, and internet-based communication. Fix Our Ferals' staff consists of a board of directors and a team of veterinarians. The organization relies on volunteers who trap and transport cats, staff spay/neuter clin- ics, raise funds, and recruit volunteers. Fix Our Ferals does not reimburse volunteers for expenses except emergency care. It does provide vouchers for spay/neutering. Van Dusen's Role With Fix Our Ferals Van Dusen was a Fix Our Ferals volunteer and provided foster care. She attempted to place cats in adoptive homes but some stayed with her indefinitely. In 2004, Van Dusen had between 70 and 80 cats. Most roamed freely around her home.
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Van Dusen devoted essentially her entire life outside of work to caring for the cats.
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  • Fall '15
  • Revenue, Taxation in the United States, van dusen, Ms. Van Dusen, Fix Our Ferals

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