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Tax Benefits of Tithing
March 16, 2008
I’m going to keep it simple today. I just want to ask you a question and to hear your responses to it. This is a question that has been running through my mind for some time and one that arose after emailing back and forth with a friend.
The question has to do with giving money to charities or to ministries or to other organizations. Though the laws of Canada and the United States are the ones I am familiar with, I assume similar laws exist in many other nations. In North America we are able to give donations to organizations that have a certain kind of charitable status. At the end of the year we are given a receipt for any money given to them and all or a portion of this money becomes tax-exempt. In the end, charitable donations are able to lower your tax bills. It is an attractive way of inviting people to give money to an organization and it is not unusual to read a request for funds and at the end to see “Tax receipts will be provided.” Organizations know that this is a perk or a benefit.
Laws that allow us to lower taxes through charitable donations are a blessing, no doubt. But I sometimes wonder if they can also distract us from people or organizations who may be in desperate need of funding. Perhaps we can be hesitant to donate to organizations that will not reimburse us with a receipt that will in turn put a few dollars back in our pockets. Is it possible that, even in our sacrificial giving, we can allow ourselves to be swayed but what we might gain in return? Do we give with an eye to our tax returns?
My question is this: if the laws of the land eradicated the tax benefits of charitable donations, do you think you would change the way you give of your tithes and offerings?
Maybe these questions will help if you are not sure what to say: Would you give more of your money? Would you give less of your money? Would you be more likely to give to individuals rather than organizations? Would you be more creative in finding organizations to give to?
I look forward to your replies.
(And please, let’s not get distracted here by whether or not tithing is mandated in the New Testament.)