Why no tax deduction for blood/tissue donation

Just got back from donating red blood cells, and wondered what the pros and cons might be of allowing a tax deduction for the donation of blood and other body products.

I guess I’m operating from a presumption that such donations are a desirable thing, which society would wish to encourage. Possibly folk with certain illnesses or habits might be precluded from taking advantage of these deductions. Heck, maybe a one-time or recurring deduction for declaring oneself an organ/body donor.

Just struck me as odd that I can itemize a deduction for dropping crap off at Goodwill or for other charitable giving, but not for this.

Off the top of my head: in charitable giving, you’re giving up something that has a cash value, if not cash itself. Assigning a cash value to blood/tissue donation might open a can of worms.

If you need to receive blood, I’m sure the hospital bills for it – not just the staff administering the transfusion and the equipment (i.e., needle, etc.) used, but the blood itself.

I suspect that the hospital may well have paid for the blood, too. And, in the past, it was possible to sell your blood. (Neil Young, in The Needle and the Damage Done: “Milk blood to keep from running out.”)

So it seems to me that assigning a cash value has already been done. There’s a current retail value – what the hospital bills, and likely a wholesale value – what the hospital paid. In the past there was a value set for payment to the individual for his blood.

Yeah, I did a quick search, and saw figures (US) of $1-300. Just struck me as something worth considerably more than the old clothing and stuff I drop off and get a receipt for. Also something that was a societal good, such as might be encouraged through a tax deduction. Of course, I guess I’d have to declare the dollar value of the juice and cookies I had after! :wink:

While donating, I chatted with the staff. They didn’t know much about the economics of their nonprofit operation, but their impression was that the bulk of their expenses were covered by the price hospitals/insurers pay for the blood/products they provide.

There’s an impression that giving people money to donate blood encourages people who are ineligible to give blood to lie their way through the screening process, tainting the blood supply.

I believe you are right about this. IIRC selling your blood was outlawed about the time that the AIDS crisis started to happen.

But there’s a big difference between giving Pat $100 for a liter of blood and letting Pat deduct $100 on the 1040 as a charitable deduction. People who need money will lie to get the money for their blood, but I can’t imagine anyone lying to get a tax deduction.

I’d also imagine there is at least some inverse correlation between people who itemize on their taxes, and folk who lie to donate blood.

They do say that blood is tested, tho I’m not sure how reliable/thorough that testing is. But they could always do something where if your blood is dinged, you either don’t get the deduction, or can’t in the future. Or agree to allow the IRS to check to see if your blood failed.

the reason, aiui, is that you paid actual money for the clothes in the first place, and you could sell them for actual money now. Blood has no actual cash value, you didnt pay for it and you cant sell it. And, I’m pretty sure the blood recipient is not charged for the actual blood, they are charged for the hospitals costs, ie: nurses time, machine use, overhead, etc


I guess I can see that logic - and, now that you mention it, it rings a bell. Similarly, you aren’t able to deduct for your time spend volunteering - even at amin wage rate.

At least they gave me a coupon for free ice cream! :cool: I’ve long thought they could do something like that to encourage voting, instead of a stupid sticker! :wink:

We don’t get tax deductions for volunteering labor, either. We could assign a value to, say, building houses for Habitat for Humanity or coaching kid’s sports. But I’m not fully sold on the idea that volunteer activities are appropriate for tax breaks.

I donated blood earlier this month; Jimmy Johns and Jersey Mike’s gave us all the free sandwiches we wanted, and there were ice-packed coolers full of all the soft drinks we wanted, and, I dunno, maybe none of that counts as payment, sure as it wasn’t the reason I donated; but it was sure welcome, anyway.

Wait, do I need to report that as income? :eek:


I don’t know that selling blood is illegal, but apparently selling plasma, a blood component, is still a thing.

I sure hope you’re the IRS agent conducting my next audit.

I’ve done accounting work for over 20 years now. You are completely wrong. In my experience, people actually lie far more.

Perhaps because blood is free, you give a pint, it comes right back at no loss to you.

Clearly, my phrasing is poor. Of course people will lie to get a tax deduction.

But will people lie about their health so that they can donate a pint of blood in order to claim the deduction?

Sure, if they can get away with it, they’ll claim they gave 10 pints last year when they didn’t give any in order to get the deduction. But will they lie about their health so that they can give blood, get their butts over to the collection point, get stuck with a needle, and give several minutes of their lives, solely to get the deduction?

People who desperately need money will lie about their health to get paid for their blood. I really don’t think many will go through the whole process of giving blood solely in order to get a deduction.

BTW, I agree that the value of the blood likely shouldn’t be deducible. My point was that the reason it’s not deductible isn’t due to problems with setting a value for it.

Yes, they will. I’m going to cite myself, from a thread I started in 2006, where a friend of mine lied to CBS (Canadian Blood Services) for no financial reason, solely for the warm fuzzy feeling that he helped saved a life. If someone would lie for a warm fuzzy feeling, they will lie for a warm fuzzy feeling that comes with a tax deduction. Hell, I know some people who will lie because it’s Tuesday.

Note for the curious: I showed my friend that thread afterwards, and he never pulled that stunt again. Now the rules have changed (in 2016 I think), so he can and does donate without lying.

In Minnesota you do get a tax break, up to $10K, for donating an organ. Link. Further reading shows a total of 19 states give deductions for donation.