If you pay a qualified organization more than fair market value for the right to attend a charity ball, banquet, show, sporting event, or other benefit event, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the privileges or other benefits you receive. If there is an established charge for the event, that charge is the value of your benefit. If there is no established charge, the reasonable value of the right to attend the event is the value of your benefit. Whether you use the tickets or other privileges has no effect on the amount you can deduct. However, if you return the ticket to the qualified organization for resale, you can deduct the entire amount you paid for the ticket.
Even if the ticket or other evidence of payment indicates that the payment is a “contribution,” this does not mean an attendee can deduct the entire amount. If the ticket shows the price of admission and the amount of the contribution, you can deduct the contribution amount.
For example, you pay $40 to attend a Ball for the benefit of a qualified organization. Printed on the ticket is “Contribution–$100.” If the regular price to enter the dance hall or club is $20, your contribution is $80 ($100 payment − $20 regular price).