Jesus was asked if it was alright to give tribute to Caesar. His answer was simple, Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God the things which be God” (Luke 20:20-26). Jesus understood governments can and do impose taxation upon its subjects. Paul tells us …”do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same (Rom. 13:3c). In our Christian walk of life it is our duty to financially support the work of God. How can we use tax code and law and increase (leverage) our giving opportunities?
The Bible is full of instruction on giving. Giving to the poor, giving of the tithe, giving of our love and giving to the church. We see numerous verses on giving and on making the most of our money. We give an inheritance to our children’s’ children (Pro. 13:22 life insurance), giving and business principles (Pro. 11:24-25), using one’s inheritance “wisely” (Pro. 21:21), business principles of investing (Pro. 22:9), giving to the poor and one shall not lack (Pro. 28:27), knowledge fills the chambers with riches, understanding tax law (Pro. 24:4, 14), estate planning (Psalm. 112:5), parents leave an inheritance for the children (II Cor. 12:14), provide for your own house or you are worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). These are just some of the Biblical principles of giving to family, fair business practices and financial planning. We can therefore use these principles as our guide in our giving to the Church of God.
Modern tax law can be most helpful in leveraging our tithes and donations to our Church. We will look at some simple ways we can in our everyday giving leverage (increase) our giving by using the tax code and laws to our favor.
- Giving of a cash bequest. We do this every month in our tithes and offerings. These ongoing contributions are dollar for dollar. The only tax leverage on a straight cash donation is the tax write off we receive every year when we file our taxes. We are allowed to deduct contributions to a legal 501 (c) (3) corporation such at the Colorado Springs Church of God 7th Day (CSCOG7).
- Wills and living trusts. All people have an estate, some very large some just the clothing on their back. Upon our eventual death, we must decide what happens to our assets. This decision MUST be made before death and in a proper legal documented form. A Will simply states our wishes for transfer at death of our assets to whomever we should choose to receive them. A living trust is a written legal document through which your assets are placed into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime and then transferred to your designated beneficiary upon your death. Both a will and a trust should only be done through a competent estate planning attorney. The CSCOG7 can be named in a will and or a trust and all beneficiaries should be notified BEFORE ones’ death of this legal request.
- Beneficiary designations on life insurance and annuity policies. Naming the CSCOG7 as the beneficiary of one’s life insurance and retirement plans can leverage pennies on the dollar into large sums of money for the Church. The life insurance should be a “permanent” cash value policy as it will stay in force until the death of the insured.
- Charitable gift annuities. A contractual agreement between a donor and a charitable organization in which the donor gives assets (not just cash, real property, life insurance, annuities, cars etc.) in exchange for the organization’s promise to provide the donor with payments for life.
- Charitable remainder Annuity Trust or a Charitable Remainder Unitrust. The donor receives an income from either trust, either a fixed amount or a variable amount. Upon death, the remainder goes to the named administrative charity. These trusts are usually for larger sums of money ($100,000 or more). An attorney and trust officer must be involved with these options and can help with choosing the better option for your planned gift to charity.
We have covered some of the ways we can leverage our donations to CSCOG7. Important points to remember are: Use tax law wisely to leverage (increase) the power and scope of your free will donation, use appropriate legal and financial advisors including estate attorneys, CPA’s and financial planners. Make sure all beneficiaries are listed correctly in all legal documents and notify the Church of your future bequest.
This page is a summary of some of the giving options currently allowed by tax law in the United States. Check with your attorney and CPA for current laws and opportunities. Use your best judgment and get competent financial and legal advice before making ANY decisions regarding large sum transfers.