Skip to main content

Designating a Donation on the Face of a Check

Question:

I have read that donors should not write the name of a missionary directly on their checks to churches or mission agencies.  Rather, they should include it on a separate piece of paper.  I have always believed this to be an urban legend.  Isn't the real issue whether the church or agency has direct control over the gift, and therefore gifts would still be deductible even if the missionary's name was written on the check?

Answer:

You are absolutely correct; this is a myth. While it may give an appearance of impropriety, the question at issue here is not the designation, but rather control over the gift. A designation becomes an issue if it is made in such a way that it serves personal purposes. A donor who writes the missionary's name on the check does not endanger the deductibility of the gift, as long as 1) the missionary has already been identified by the church as a worthy recipient or 2) the church subsequently confirms, of its own volition, that worthiness. In other words, it is (or becomes) the church's decision to support the missionary. As noted earlier, the key in this situation is control. If the church/organization has identified the missionary as a target of support, then the organization is exercising control over those gifts, and they are deductible. 

However, if after making the gift, a donor is still able to direct the use of the funds, the gift is most likely not deductible. A church or mission agency must avoid becoming a conduit, particularly for someone who may otherwise be expected to assist the recipient regardless of a charitable motivation. For example, a father who donates to a church school seeking for the donation to cover his child's education should not receive credit for a charitable contribution. 

For more details on this issue, follow the links below:

Comments

  1. I appreciate this post. I had come to the same conclusion but it helps to have someone with your expertise say the same thing.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Housing Allowance and Form 1099-MISC Reporting

Question:

A church provides its minister a housing allowance, but for other purposes it believes that it must report the full amount of compensation (including the non-taxable housing allowance portion) on Form 1099-MISC (in order to demonstrate the full earnings of the minister). If the church reports his compensation,including the housing allowance, on Form 1099-MISC as taxable income, will he be able to deduct his housing expenses somewhere else on the Form 1040?

Answer:

This questions brings up a couple of issues. First, most ministers are properly classified as employees who receive Form W-2, not as independent contractors who receive Form 1099-MISC. On Form W-2, Box 1 for taxable compensation is reduced reflecting the church's designation of a portion of his pay as non-taxable. Then in Box 14, it typically reports as a memorandum item his additional non-taxable, housing allowance compensation. In the situation addressed in the question, this Form W-2 reporting may or may not a…

Review: Form 1099 Payments to 501(c)(3) Organizations

Question:

A church rented space from another church last year. Should it request a completed Form W-9 and issue Form 1099-MISC?

Answer:

We have written similar blog posts on this topic in the past (listed below), but we figured it was a good time for a review. 

Payments from one 501(c)(3) organization to another 501(c)(3) organization are not subject to Form 1099-MISC reporting. The 2015 Instructions for Form 1099-MISC state that "payments to a tax-exempt organization" are exempt from reporting a Form 1099-MISC. 

The following are typical examples of payments of $600 or more by a church which are subject to reporting a Form 1099-MISC:
Rent paid to an individual (non-corporation)Payments for services rendered by individuals who are not employees (e.g. janitorial service, facilities, snow removal, guest speakers)Support sent directly to missionariesHere are some similar blog posts that we have written in the past:

Form 1099 for Payments to Other Ministries
Form 1099 for Non-profit?
Fo…

Gifts Paid Out of Church Funds: Form 1099-MISC Requirements

Question:
 A church gave a wedding gift of $1000 to a couple who are church members. No goods or services were provided by the couple in exchange for the gift.  Is a Form 1099-MISC required? 
Answer: In the following answer, we assume that the couple are not employees of the church from whom the gift could not be viewed as compensation for their services. Also, the amount seems to be small enough to avoid any concerns of "private inurement."

Accordingly, no Form 1099-MISC is required. According to the 2017 IRS Instructions for Form 1099-MISC a Form 1099-MISC is only required for payment of goods or services. The requirements are as follows:
"File Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, for each person to whom you have paid during the year:  At least $10 in royalties (see the instructions for box 2) or broker payments in lieu of dividends or tax-exempt interest (see the instructions for box 8);  At least $600 in:  1. Rents (box 1);  2. Services performed by someone who is not your …