This time of year people are thinking about charitable giving for tax purposes. It is great that people want to donate to non-profit organizations such as Churches. Many non-profit agencies solely rely on charitable giving to function. I can understand the stress that these organizations face when there is the talk of tax write off's disappearing from income taxes. One of the things concerning to me is the attachment of a tax write off and a donation.
My wife an I support organizations that we are passionate about. One thing we don't do however is worry about a tax write-off. Some people may pick and poke at the issue of not using our giving as a tax write off. One of the reasons why we do not do this is because we donate to support the cause, not get something in return. My interpretation of how the Bible presents giving in the New Testament; is to give freely and from the heart.
I didn't read anything about figuring out how your donation will save you money on your taxes. For this reason, our family gives because we want to. We do not give expecting anything in return. Something is exciting about giving a gift with no strings attached.
Charitable giving for tax purposes is a stretch Biblically.
Matthew 6:1-4 NASB
1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
If you look at the set of verses above, it is clear that Jesus is trying to bring to our motives to our attention. Charitable giving for tax purposes is counter to what Jesus is saying in this set of verses. Now, this statement is two-fold. Jesus wants us to examine our heart and where our motives are. Donating money because we are passionate about helping those less fortunate is a great thing to do. Getting a tax write off is a bonus if you are solely giving the heart. If you are giving money because you want to receive the tax benefits first, then you should carefully examine this passage.
Examine your heart before you give.
Before you take a look at what your tax implications are, stop right there. Giving freely of the heart does not entail assessing the tax savings on the other end. Jesus called these types of donors hypocrites. Desiring to have your name on a wall should get you to examine your motives. How does it further God's Kingdom for you to have the attention of a donation? Is your gift-giving glory to God?
Charitable giving for tax purposes should be avoided. Charitable giving for the Kingdom should be the priority. In all that we do, let us point it back to God.