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Christmas and Birthday Gifts to Missionaries

Question:

A church's missions committee wishes to give Christmas and birthday gifts to its missionaries. Are these gifts taxable to the missionaries? Will the church be required to file Form 1099-MISC? Is there a way to give a missionary a non-taxable gift?

Answer:

Generally, all gifts to missionaries are consider taxable as compensation. However, the church will not have to issue a Form 1099-MISC to individual missionaries for gifts sent to and managed by the missionaries' mission agencies. These agencies are responsible to issue an appropriate report of income (either Form 1099-MISC or Form W-2). Further, mission support sent directly to missionaries (not through an agency) are subject to government reporting unless they total less than $600 per year.
There is one way that gifts can be given to a missionary without being taxable to the missionary. Gifts given by an individual to an individual are neither deductible by the donor, nor taxable to the donee. If a member on his or her own volition sends money to a missionary rather than responding to a church-sponsored collection, it will be non-taxable gift to the missionary and non-deductible by the donor. As soon as the church sponsors the collection as a corporate activity it becomes compensation to the missionary and a deductible charitable contribution to the members.

For further discussion and IRS documentation please type “Missionary" and "gifts” in the search window. We believe you will find a number of relevant blog posts.

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