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November 05, 2008


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I think the issue is drawing attention to yourself by saying, "look what a great guy I am by donating XXX to charity." Give for the glory of who you serve (hopefully, the Lord), but not for yourself.

As for the 1040 deductions, I don't think anybody should apologize for taking what they are legally entitled. You are still rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's. There is no cheating or unfairness about that.

I write my tithe off. I guess I never really thought about it otherwise. It's just something I went ahead and did at the end of the year. My church sends me the little tax contributions form and I pass it along to my accountant.

If that makes them feel good, go for it! I hope they pay only in cash so nobody at the bank knows what they are doing!

A couple thoughts. First, people who find this particular savings on their taxes undesirable should take the difference in tax savings and put it back in the collection plate...more money for the Kingdom. Second, in many church leadership positions there is a public commitment to supporting the church with tithes...the word gets out anyway. Along this same line, having a record of tithing could be important to someone in such a role were publicly challenged about their financial commitment

One additional note...I am much less afraid of losing my reward for what I do give than accounting for all I do not give.

When certain states were debating going to a flat income tax system which would eliminate deductions for charitable contributions it was the churches en masse that campaigned the legislatures against doing away with such a deduction. Which goes in line with my thoughts to take the deduction. My church makes it easy to get my giving statement at the end of the year and it specifically says that it is valid for IRS purposes.

I claim it. I prepare tax returns and have had people tell me they don't claim their tithes and offerings. I have mentioned they could give the church the extra refund $. Then others making $50,000/year are proud of their $10/week giving and claim it.

I actually catch a lot of flack from my family and friends over this but I do not claim any charitable contributions on my taxes. I feel that it some how lessens the joy of giving for me. I know that sounds strange but that is how I feel about it. I am very careful to claim all other deductions but I just can't bring myself to make those "gifts" a part of my taxes.

Of course I claim it! In this age where our tax code is a wealth redistribution vehicle and people get "refunds" even when they don't pay taxes, am I seriously not supposed to take my own money back if the system allows me? I'd be curious if these same Christians elect other deductions, such as the mortgage interest one, which clearly is a way the government tries to influence home ownership.

How they think it is a problem with Christianity is beyond me. Render unto God the tithe; render unto Ceasar only what taxes one must pay Ceasar.

I write off my tithe...and then I tithe additionally off of my tax return.

We claim ours. It seems to make a big difference in our taxes, since we give a lot. (Being the pastor of a church plant means we feel especially invested in seeing it succeed!)

It's not bragging. It's a form. Who's going to know? Your tax preparer? I doubt anyone at the IRS is even going to review it.

I figure if I don't take the tax deduction, the government's going to waste the money on pork, anyway. It's not about getting an earthly gain for giving to God, it's about not giving the government more than required.

I have to agree with you, FMF. I don't see any problem with taking the deduction at all. Like you said, you can always give away whatever benefit you get from taking the deduction if you really feel strongly about it.

It really comes down to where your heart is. If you're only giving because you know you'll get a tax deduction (which would be a very dumb reason indeed), then you're heart's not in the right place. If you give because you want to further God's Kingdom and because you love God and other people, then taking the deduction isn't going to change the nature of your heart.

Most of these semi-unclear issues come down to where your heart is. Jesus didn't want us to get caught up in these legalistic rules - He always looks at where our heart is.

I think everyone should take tax deductions for charitable donations. It's the way the game is played and should encourage good habits. Having said that, I do not believe that donations to churches should be deductible. If a particular church runs a soup kitchen, or other charitable pursuits, that portion is OK but the government has no place subsidizing religion. The separation of church and state is good for both parties. The Mormons have just used tens of millions of dollars of "charitable" donations fighting political fights in California. Why am I subsidizing that?

I will probably get some flak from this, but if you are giving a true tithe to your church, the IRS does not consider it tax deductible. In this case a true tithe is a fixed amount or fixed percentage of ones income that the church requires you to give. This type of tithe is not considered charitable giving since it is required of all members and can be better classifed as membership dues or fees paid in return for services provided by the church.

Having stated that, I have not come upon any case where the IRS has ruled against someone claiming this type of tithe as charitable giving unless they are already being investigated for other types of fraud.

Quick rule of thumb: if it's required, it's not charitable.

I agree with Jack. Beyond the literal question at hand, the main issue is a matter of the heart. I don't give because I can deduct it--I give as an act of worship. I'd give regardless of the deduction, but since the government allows me to do so, I deduct my charitable contributions. If it was a temptation to give because I could deduct it, though, then I probably would avoid the temptation and not deduct it.

I take full advantage of every deduction possible. I'm not dishonest or anything. I just use everything I can. It's not that I feel like I deserve credit for anything I donate, because the IRS doesn't care one way or another. I just feel like I can find a better use for the money than the government can.

Plus it doesn't make sense to pay more for something than you need to. You wouldn't go into a store and offer them more than they're asking.

And if you're really feeling bad, you could take the money you saved from deducting, and put all of it towards a good cause. Giving that leads to more giving.

In regards to tithes being required...I don't think they are. The Bible says you SHOULD give to the church, but I don't think it's going to keep you out of heaven. I would say it is a donation as opposed to a membership fee.

I have no problem claiming tithes on my taxes. If the IRS has a problem with tithing, then they need to specifically say so. We tithe 10% of our gross income. Even though I don't think we have to tithe part of our refund because it's returned income as opposed to new income, we still usually give a little more because we feel blessed.

I deduct what I give to my church, but I don't deduct my contributions to the local food bank and the other charity I donate to. Mainly because I think it's a pain to keep track of the other stuff, and my church sends out a handy statement at the end of the year. There. I've been outed for laziness in deductions...

I think is is stupid to pay more taxes then legally required. It it bothers people that much, they can caculate how much they saved by itemizing and then give that extra money away.

I deduct all my charitable giving. I'm not religious so I don't tithe to a church so most of my giving is focused on local aid organizations and medical research.

Heh, that was my original comment. I'm internet famous!

I personally deduct my giving, for many of the same reasons already described. One important consideration for me is motivation - would I still be giving if it wasn't tax deductible? Since I would still give just as much, I don't feel any conviction about taking the deduction, since it is not a part of my motivation. And I don't think anyone will ever look at my tax records to investigate my giving as some kind of "Holiness test".

My original comment, as stated in the first post, was in regards to whether a politician would want to claim their giving on their tax record. If I was an elected official, I don't think I would claim it, since I'd know my tax records would be of interest to the general public. Even if it wasn't my intention to get attention for the giving, I would know the attention was coming, and gaining status for giving is not Biblical in my mind.

I deduct everything I can. The self-employment tax kills me. I feel like I need all the help I can get at tax time. I do not give with any thought of a deduction so there is no ulterior motive to the giving. At the same time, I'm grateful to add it all up at the end of the year and deduct it.

Another reason some people leave giving off their taxes is that they give in ways which are not tax deductible. For instance, my grandparents paid the college tuition of the long-time housekeeper's daughter. That was some BIG giving, but of course is not something you can itemize on your tax return (in fact, they might have had to PAY gift taxes on that...).

And in my opinion, that argument against claiming tithes on your taxes is a prime example of why it is ignorant/incorrect to take the Bible 100% literally. It's called CONTEXT. Paul was writing against those who stood up in church and proudly and purposefully dumped lots of coins out to the church for all their neighbors to see. And how exactly does getting a tax deduction affect your "earthly status?" Unless you're doing it to impress your CPA...

I think there is a massive fallacy in one of the premise of this argument and that is that, somehow, not paying taxes you don't have to, is a reward. Seriously, in what sense it it a reward to simply follow the rules of the State? Isn't that what a good citizen is supposed to do. If one day they repeal the deduction (and if liberals keep winning it may happen ;-) I'll stop taking the deduction.

I use to think that deducting the tithe was like claiming God as a dependent. After a little thinking it became clear to me that not deducting the tithe meant giving to ceasar more than his due.

First, there is no Scripture that authorizes the Church to collect tithes as a requirement of membership or as a condition of salvation.
Second, only a person living under the Levitical Law is REQUIRED to pay tithes, and note that "tithes" is plural, meaning there is more than one.
Third, even if tithing, as established under the Law of Moses, is still in force, I know of no church that implements it as it is set up under that law. So what is practiced today in every church I know of (and no, I don't know them all) is a corruption of what is established under God's Law.

Finally, understand what a tax deduction is: it's the government saying that a certain portion of your income is not subject to taxes, and if you paid taxes on a portion that is not considered taxable, the government is in effect saying you did not owe that tax to begin with and if you just let them know (by claiming it as a deduction on your return) they will refund the overpaid tax to you. It's not a gift, it's YOUR money that was overpaid to the government. Yes, Jesus said "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, but in this case, "Caesar" (the government) is saying that a portion of what you rendered was not actually his. Please don't look at this as being "rewarded" for giving or paying tithes. You're not; you're simply having tax you did not actually owe refunded to you.

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