I’ll confess that I had no idea who Kirk Herbstreit was when I first saw this story. Thankfully, my resident college football maven and fellow attorney filled me in. Apparently, for an OSU grad, he’s not too bad…

After years of butting heads with PSU and MSU, Herbstreit has a new three-letter challenge: the IRS. Herbstreit, a former quarterback with Ohio State University and now sports commentator for ESPN, has sued the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for denying a charitable donation.

Herbstreit and his wife donated their home – but not their property – at 2321 Onandaga Drive to the Upper Arlington Fire Department to use for training purposes. The Herbstreits were thinking of simply razing their property to rebuild when they decided, instead, to donate the home. For purposes of valuing the deduction, the Herbstreits claim to have included only the value of the home and not the property.

While not a common practice, such donations are apparently made from time to time for use in fire department and police department training. The homes can be used for all sorts of training purposes, including learning how to identify arson and search and rescue drills.

I think it’s a brilliant idea. The IRS doesn’t quite agree, arguing that the Herbstreits did not donate their “entire interest” and should not be allowed to take the deduction. To be honest, the logic escapes me. It is not unusual to donate split interests, whether it be a remainder interest in a trust or a conservation easement on real property. That said, I haven’t been able to get ahold of the IRS’ official brief on it yet, so check back in later for more information.

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Kelly Phillips Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer, and podcaster.


  1. The Tax Advisor published a piece in their November 2008 issue that is in direct conflict with the Service’s position here. As a matter of fact, I advised a client back in May that the land did not need to be transferred along with the structure based on that article. Looks like I need to go back and warn the client!

  2. The IRS has been wrong a lot lately. This looks like just another example in a long line of “wrongness.”

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