Dr. Timothy Leary and many other scientists, gurus, writers, and philosophers were calling for immortality in the early 70s. Adopting the Jehovah’s Witness’ slogan, “Millions now living may never die,” they waged a war against death. They intended to at very least stave it off for a while–maybe a good 200 years.

A longevity pill was the goal. They rationalized that one of the chief benefits to having humans live hundreds of years longer would be to force them to deal with social and environmental issues. They couldn’t just abuse, profit, and die. Rather, they’d have to stick around to see the results of their misconduct, and would most likely care more for the Earth and their fellow human beings.

It looks as though the longevity pill didn’t work out, and the many environmental and social problems are still not taking care of themselves. But as we prepare to enter the new millennium, some in the skateboard industry are rising to the occasion.

Skateboard-industry generosity is both conscience-friendly and tax-friendly.

Giving is receiving¿literally. The United States government is giving a great incentive to taxpaying companies and individuals to donate money to legitimate nonprofit organizations. It goes by the name of “a tax break.” Current tax law allows for charitable contributions to be included as itemized deductions. As your income-tax bracket increases, the real cost of your charitable gift decreases, making contributions more attractive for those in higher brackets. For example, if you are in the 28-percent tax bracket, the actual cost of a 100-dollar donation is only 72 dollars (100 dollars less the 28-dollar tax savings).

The skateboard industry has seen a recent rise in the number of companies making donations. DVS Shoe Co., Sole Technology, Reef Brazil, and Girl/Chocolate Skateboards all donated product to the Hurricane Mitch survivors in Central America last fall. Native Nicaraguan Chico Brenes was proud to see his two sponsors DVS and Chocolate giving their support: “It’s a horrible situation, and Nicaragua needs all the support they can get,” he said at the time.

Duffs Shoes donated to The Sanctuary, an organization that offers a positive alternative for runaway and homeless youth, and Habilitat, an association that helps people overcome substance-abuse problems and antisocial behavior problems.

DC Shoe Co. made donations to four nonprofit organizations that focus on any combination of human rights, poverty alleviation, and responsible business practices for manufacturing overseas. One of the major organizations was The Milarepa Fund, a nonprofit organization founded by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys and Erin Potts.

Beastie Boys-owned X-Large regularly donates clothing samples and seconds to Out of the Closet thrift stores, whose profits go towards AIDS research and prevention. Additionally, they sent clothing to the Vergennes Union High School in Vermont, which helps young men with behavior problems and academic difficulties. Most of the students come from low-income families and are survivors of alcoholism, and/or sexual, verbal, and physical abuse.

Last November, South Shore Distribution held the Second Annual Texas Skate Jam at the South Side Indoor Skatepark to generate money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Over 60 pros showed up, and the event raised more than 7,000 dollars for the foundation. Sponsors included Etnies, BSB Bearings, Shannon’s Surf And Sport, Shannon’s Street Waves, Point Break Skate And Surf, Source Board Shop, and South Shore Distribution.

There are a few things to keep in mind when making charitable contributions. First, make sure the organization you plan to donate to is recognized by the IRS. Qualified organizations include nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable (Red Cross and United Way, for example), educational (su as the Boy and Girl Scouts), scientific, or literary in purpose, or that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals. You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization, and most will be able to tell you.

Additionally, Publication 78 provides a listing of organizations that have been recognized by the IRS as eligible to receive tax deductible contributions, as well as the corresponding limit of deductibility. You may find Publication 78 in your local library’s reference section, by calling the IRS helpline (1-800-TAX-FORM), or by looking online at www.irs.ustreas.gov

A few online services have been developed to assist you in the donation process. Independent Charities of America (ICA) prescreens high-quality national and international charities and presents them for your consideration. Founded in 1988, they only work with IRS-recognized, tax-exempt, nonprofit charitable organizations. Check out their Web site at www.independentcharities.org. Also, www.guidestar.org will help you find information on the activities and finances of more than 650,000 nonprofit organizations.

Keep in mind that just because an organization is nonprofit or tax-exempt does not mean it is eligible to receive tax-deductible donations. The group must first apply to the IRS to become recognized as a qualified organization.

Second, if the contribution you make is 250 dollars or more, you must get a receipt. According to the IRS, a cancelled check is no longer sufficient documentation. If you are donating clothing, make a list of the items, including the fair market value of each item, and have it signed by the charity. This is a good precaution, just in case the IRS decides to audit your return. The “fair market value” of used items is usually determined by the amount people would pay for the items at thrift stores. As a manufacturer, you can determine the “fair market value” of unused products. This is advantageous to you because old stock can be donated at full-market price.

Finally, any expenses accrued while making the donations, such as car mileage and shipping costs, can be written off as well. Your mileage is deductible at an IRS-set rate, which is currently twelve cents per mile. You cannot include your employees’ wages as deductible expenses, even though they may help in the donation process.

Obviously, many in the skateboard industry have been busy helping those in need. Extreme tragedies¿such as the Hurricane Mitch catastrophe¿call for immediate help, but there are many organizations throughout the world that need continuous assistance. Currently, many nonprofit organizations, such as the American Red Cross, the American Refugee Committee, and CARE, are accepting contributions for Kosovo refugee assistance. Whatever cause you decide to donate to, first be sure they are a legitimate organization.

Examples Of Charitable Contributions¿A Quick Check

There are many rules regarding charitable contributions. Here’s a quick reference guide that will help you become familiar with what passes as a deduction and what does not. If in doubt, call a tax expert, or research the issue yourself at the library or online at www.irs.ustreas.gov

Deductible As Charitable Contributions

Money or property you give to nonprofit groups that are charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose, or that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals, such as:

Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other religious organizations

Federal, state, and local governments, if your contribution is solely for public purposes (for example, a gift to reduce the public debt)

Nonprofit schools and hospitals

Public parks and recreation facilities

Salvation Army, Red Cross, CARE, Goodwill Industries, United Way, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and other similar organizations

War veterans’ groups

Out-of-pocket expenses when you serve a qualified organization as a volunteer

Not Deductible As Charitable Contributions

Money or property you give to:

Civic leagues, social and sports clubs, labor unions, and chambers of commerce

Foreign organizations (except certain Canadian and Mexican charities)

Groups that are run for personal profit

Groups whose purpose is to lobby for law changes

Political groups or candidates running for public office

Dues, fees, or bills paid to country clubs, lodges, fraternal orders, or similar groups

Value of your donated time or services

Value of blood donated to a blood bank

CE=”New York”> Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other religious organizations

Federal, state, and local governments, if your contribution is solely for public purposes (for example, a gift to reduce the public debt)

Nonprofit schools and hospitals

Public parks and recreation facilities

Salvation Army, Red Cross, CARE, Goodwill Industries, United Way, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and other similar organizations

War veterans’ groups

Out-of-pocket expenses when you serve a qualified organization as a volunteer

Not Deductible As Charitable Contributions

Money or property you give to:

Civic leagues, social and sports clubs, labor unions, and chambers of commerce

Foreign organizations (except certain Canadian and Mexican charities)

Groups that are run for personal profit

Groups whose purpose is to lobby for law changes

Political groups or candidates running for public office

Dues, fees, or bills paid to country clubs, lodges, fraternal orders, or similar groups

Value of your donated time or services

Value of blood donated to a blood bank