Church members in the United States can no longer claim a charitable donation deduction on income tax forms for loose cash they toss into the collection plate each Sunday. The new law took effect Jan. 1, 2007.
Under the old rules, a donor could maintain his or her own records of monetary gifts under $250, but now every contribution must be backed up with a paper trail, whether that is a cancelled check or a receipt from the church or organization.
John Bolt, director of finance and administration for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, sent a letter out to the deacons of each U.S. Christian Reformed church last fall, asking them to make sure church members are aware of the new rules.
“The impact of this change to most of our families will be the deductibility of gifts of currency that are not included in a giving envelope,” he wrote. “Loose coins and bills that previously could be tracked by the donor’s own records now will be ineligible for inclusion as a deductible charitable contribution.”
The change does not affect Canadian churches, as Canadians are already required to produce receipts for all donations. Many churches use numbered envelopes or have a coupon program that allows families to receive a receipt for all donations.