An investment can also be a donation

Donations and sponsorship

Definition and demarcation of donations

The term “donation” does not exist in civil law. From a civil law perspective, donations are gifts according to the features of Section 516, Paragraph 1 of the German Civil Code (BGB).

Under tax law, donations are defined as voluntary and unpaid donations in money or in kind for a religious, scientific, non-profit, economic or political purpose. There is no exchange of services between the donor and recipient of the donation. Conceivable and implied by the selection of the sponsored is the specification of a purpose limitation with regard to the (non-profit) use.

Donations can be made by both natural and legal persons (under public or private law).

In addition to providing support, their goal is usually to claim the donation to reduce the tax burden from the tax authorities. This requires a donation confirmation (colloquially: donation receipt), with the exception of monetary donations up to 300 € if they are made cashless.

Donations for which the university provides a consideration do not constitute donations. It is irrelevant whether the services are equivalent. Dividing a grant into a donation and an exchange of services is not permitted.

According to tax law, donations are subject to the requirement of timely use, which is currently set at 2 years, starting with the calendar year following the donation.

Use for tax-privileged purposes

A donation receipt (colloquially: donation receipt) can only be issued if it is a donation for the promotion of charitable purposes. Research and teaching are non-profit as a scientific purpose insofar as they take place in the sovereign area.

The use of a donation in the taxable (economic) area (business of a commercial nature, e.g. contract research, application of reliable knowledge) is not permitted. The exclusive use of donations for representative expenses such as the hospitality of guests on the occasion of a workshop or a working meeting / dinner with predominantly external participation is also prohibited. The generally applicable requirement for an economical and economical use of resources is particularly important in this area.

It is also not permitted to actively advertise the donor's support. The publication or the thanks for the donation, for example, in the program for a conference or on the homepage, the latter, however, not with an active link, but with the company logo at most. For the university as the recipient, a donation is irrelevant under tax law.

Donation receipt (colloquially: donation receipt)

In order to claim a donation for tax purposes, donations in kind and amounts over 300 € require a donation receipt, which must be created in accordance with official requirements. The central administration, FIN - Finance and Procurement department, is solely responsible within the university.

It goes without saying that no donation receipts may be issued for personal donations to university members and / or donations that are not processed via third-party funds accounting objects of the FIN department.

For a monetary donation of up to 300 €, no donation receipt is required for tax claims against the tax office. A simplified proof applies here, which is provided in accordance with the Income Tax Implementation Ordinance (EStDV) with receipt for the cash payment (receipt) from a bank or its booking confirmation.

Due to the wide variety of types of payments and donations in kind, your help is required if the donor needs a donation receipt. Please use the form provided for this from now on.

Your truthful information, which must be confirmed by signature, is of particular importance for the issuance of the donation receipt: in the event of improper issuance, the university can be held liable for the lost tax, which the tax authorities set at a flat rate of 30% of the confirmed value.

Special features for donations in kind

The acceptance of a donation in kind is only permitted if there is a corresponding need. The criterion for your assessment in this regard could be whether you - provided the financial resources were fundamentally available - would choose this item for purchase.

If the need is given, possible ancillary costs as well as personal and / or material follow-up costs and their financing must be clarified before accepting the donation. These can only be borne by state funds or non-tax-relevant third-party funds. Donations are reserved exclusively for the sovereign area, i.e. for non-profit research and teaching tasks.

In addition to the exact description of each individual item (e.g. type, age, condition, historical purchase price), the value within the meaning of Section 10b (3) EStG must be stated. The tax law meaning of the indication of the value for the donor requires particularly careful consideration and assessment.

For tax purposes, a distinction must be made between the donation in kind from business or private assets:

from business assets

If, according to the information provided by the donor, the contribution in kind originates from its business assets, it is to be stated at the withdrawal value (plus the sales tax incurred during the withdrawal; see R 10b. 1 paragraph 1 sentence 4 EStR). In these cases, apart from confirmation from the donor (the company), no additional documents are required for the university.



For the sake of completeness, the tax regulations applicable to the company are also mentioned at this point. The withdrawal value is basically the partial value. ·

  • The withdrawal value can also be the book value if the asset is donated for tax-privileged purposes immediately after the withdrawal (so-called book value privilege § 6 paragraph 1 number 4 sentences 4 and 5 EStG). ·
  • The amount shown on the donation receipt must not exceed the value set at the time of withdrawal.

from private assets

The so-called "common value" of the donated asset is decisive here. This is determined by the price that would be achievable in normal business transactions, depending on the nature of the item, if the item was sold. All circumstances that influence the price must be taken into account. Unusual or personal circumstances are not to be taken into account. The common value is a gross value.

Otherwise, the amortized acquisition or production costs, i.e. the acquisition costs minus the depreciation for the previous use (if known and proven) must be stated as the value.

Since it is often no longer possible to provide proof of purchase when donating used items from private assets, it is possible to document the average value at the time of handover by means of an expert opinion. Insofar as the scientist who receives a donation in kind can make the necessary assessment, an external reviewer is not required. All available information (e.g. Internet research for similar goods, etc.) is included in the value statement.

The university library, for which there are generally applicable calculation specifications, is to be involved in scientific literature. As a contact person is available to you

Ms. Wera Erhard, phone 06131 39-24572, [email protected]

Definition and demarcation sponsorship

Sponsoring is based on a contractual agreement in which a partner grants money or a pecuniary benefit and the university owes this partner support for his communication and marketing goals as a service.

In contrast to the donation, there is an exchange of services and both contractual partners are obliged.

When it comes to sponsoring, the measurable achievements are usually not of equal value.

The aim of sponsoring for the sponsor is, on the one hand, to promote a specific purpose and, on the other hand, above all (also) so-called "communicative purposes", for example maintaining contacts and image or increasing awareness. Sponsoring is target group-oriented and includes - in addition to the economic interest - a certain amount of funding that is not recognizable in its scope.

Under current law, sponsorship contracts are generally not subject to any formal requirements. In the case of a written fixation, it does not matter how the contract is called. Only the content is decisive.

In order to avoid ambiguities in the performance of the contract and any disputes that may result from it, it is urgently recommended that you insist on written documentation subsequently signed by both partners, if necessary following an oral agreement.

In terms of tax law, the following applies to the university: the services received in connection with sponsorship can

  • Tax-free income in the non-material area or from asset management, this is the case, for example, if the university only uses the name, emblem or logo of the sponsor on posters, event notices, in exhibition catalogs or in other ways, however without special emphasis and otherwise no activities have been agreed. This type of "donation" does not represent a business expense for the sponsor and is to be treated as a donation (§ 10 b EStG) if it is made voluntarily to promote tax-privileged purposes or based on a voluntarily entered into legal obligation, no payment for a specific service by the recipient and is not in an actual economic connection with its services (BFH dated November 25, 1987, IR 126/85, BStBl 1988 II p. 220; dated September 12, 1990, IR 65/86, BStBl 1991 II p. 258) .
  • taxable income from commercial operations, this is the more typical case, for example, if the sponsor seeks economic benefits, which can be in particular in the dissemination and enhancement of his reputation, for his company and the university actively promotes them. Such an activity is already given if the sponsor's advertising material (e.g. pens or similar) is distributed in conference folders or an active link is set on the homepage for an event at which the university is (co-) organizer.

For these sponsorship measures are allowed no Donation receipts are issued. Commercial sponsoring establishes what is known as a “commercial operation” on the part of the university under tax law. Services are fully subject to the current 19% sales tax and are also relevant for income tax (corporation tax, trade tax).

The general principles apply to the delimitation (cf. in particular the application decree on the tax code, on Section 67 a, Item I / 9).

Conclusion of sponsorship agreements

The contractual agreement must identify the university as the contractual partner and must be concluded in writing before the exchange of services. These contracts also require the prior approval of the Legal Department, unless the sample contract text attached as an annex is merely supplemented with a measure-related and otherwise it is not deviated from.

The scientist who provides a sponsoring service is authorized to sign. The head of the scientific institution must be informed. This must be documented on the contract with a signature.

If you draft a contract yourself or your partner submits a contract, we ask you to ensure that the following information is absolutely necessary:

  • the correct and complete designation of the contractual partners with power of representation
  • the concrete description of the service and the consideration to which the partners undertake and how to proceed in the event of service disruptions or changes to the contract
  • the time frame of the service (one-time, permanent, period)
  • the internally responsible persons and contacts of both contractual partners
  • German as the applicable law and in principle Mainz as the place of jurisdiction
  • the so-called severability clause.

Contact Person

To set up an account, please contact the clerk in the third-party funding department.

You can find a sample contract on sponsoring at: here.

In the event of deviations from the sample contract or questions about the design of sponsoring agreements, the legal department, Mr. Benjamin Raacke-Sippel, is your contact person (Tel. 20065, email: [email protected]).

Donation receipts may only be issued by the Finance and Procurement Department. A note is required for this. You can find the form at: here. Ms. Stephanie Brückner will be happy to answer your questions (Tel. 22531, E-Mail: [email protected])

You can find more information on the topic of sponsorship and donation here.