Sex Museum in Trouble Over Donations

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You might want to hurry up and unload those whips and chains if you’re expecting a tax deduction for them. The New York Times has called out The Museum of Sex for accepting sex-centric donations, even though the tourist attraction is a for-profit organization.  

The Manhattan attraction, founded in 2002 by sex enthusiast Daniel Gluck, takes advantage of its partnership with the Muse foundation, a charitable organization located at the same address, to elicit donations from dominatrixes and others who might be looking for a quick tax write-off.

Those looking to donate their sex toys are directed from the museum to the foundation. As explained on the museum’s Web site, “The Muse Foundation of New York is a fully registered private foundation affiliated with The Museum of Sex. Its mission is to work with The Museum of Sex to preserve and make available a comprehensive collection of materials relating to the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality.”

While Gluck maintains that the Muse Foundation is its own separate entity, there’s virtually no information on what the Muse Foundation actually does (other than, of course, collecting donations for the museum). Though they have managed to stay out of trouble with the IRS thus far, it’s clear the organizations are operating on a slippery slope.  

What’s funny is that the nature of these donations is not the problem.  No one – not even the IRS – would have a problem with you taking a deduction based on your donation bondage machine if it weren’t, technically, winding up with a for-profit organization. (The Museum of Sex charges $16.25 for admission and sells sex paraphernalia.)

Of course, if the outcry escalates, The Museum of Sex could argue that it hasn’t really turned a profit since opening in 2002.  But let’s get real here. If every business that was operating at a loss could claim to be a non-profit, then the United States would suddenly find itself to be the most charitable country in the world, and one without much of a business tax base.

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