Originally Posted by Bostonian
Another NYT article on this case, based on court filings:

Lopping, Tips and the Z-List: Bias Lawsuit Explores Harvards Admissions Secrets

You are not supposed to receive anything of substantial value in return for a tax-deductible donation. Some Americans, rationally or not, value admissions for their children at some universities at more than $1 million. Non-profits must provide receipts for large donations. For Harvard and the "donor" to exchange a million dollar "donation" for an admissions spot, which can reduce Federal income taxes by about $400K (using a marginal income tax rate of 40%), is a big tax fraud. The honest thing to do would be to simply auction off a limited number of spots and do away with the pretense of charity.