Giving and Taxes

In America, we have been given an amazing incentive to be givers by the government. For every charitable donation that you give to a recognized charity or non-profit organization you receive a tax deduction. It is such a fantastic plan because for many it actually is in their best interest (tax-wise) to be givers. In fact, as I recently discovered at my garage sale, I can actually make more money on my old clothes by donating them to charity than I can selling them because of the tax break. Many charities will give you a $5 credit for a donated shirt that you could only sell for $1 at a garage sale. So the next time you are going to sell something, consider the tax benefits of donating it because it might actually pay you more to give it.

Having said that, my Dad told me something the other day that absolutely shocked me. America is one of the only nations in the world that gives tax benefits for giving to a non-profit, charity, or church. In South Africa, the only tax benefits that you might get are in giving to a school or educational facility. (Now I don’t know SA law so there might be more avenues of tax deductions but I believe my premise is correct) I was absolutely floored by this because I think I have had it as a little weed in the back of my mind that the only “legitimate” giving comes with a tax receipt for a deduction. In fact, last year Matt and I gave over half of our giving to people or organizations with no tax benefit. At the beginning of this year, I remember saying to Matt that we needed to give more to tax-deductible organizations like missions and non-profits etc so that we could get the tax benefit. The thought that this ONLY happens in America stopped me right in my tracks.

How much of our giving in America has become dictated by our tax benefit? I think many of us have given for the tax-break instead of giving by the Holy Spirit. Why do we think that if we aren’t giving to the church it isn’t really giving? I think a lot of that mentality has come because if it’s not to a church or non-profit or charity then the government doesn’t consider it giving. But here is the truth, if the Holy Spirit leads you to give to an individual and you hesitate because there isn’t a tax break for it, something is very wrong.

I just had to check my heart and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. If He leads us to give everything without a tax break then I am going to follow His Spirit. Now if the Lord leads us to give to a missionary (for example) and there is a tax benefit for giving to them then I am going to take advantage of it. The tax break is just a gift of your own money back to you to encourage further generosity. However, your return on your seed comes from the Lord, not the government. Wherever He tells you to plant your seed and give, you can do it with joy and excitement because it is going to bring a harvest. So don’t bind your giving by your taxes! If there is a tax benefit in giving to where the Holy Spirit leads you to give, then make sure and take advantage of that. Really it is just being a wise steward of what you have been given. However, if the Holy Spirit tells you to give somewhere else… give with joy. Give with freedom, because your harvest doesn’t come at tax time. Your harvest is coming from the Lord, and He really knows how to give.