Is it right to give weekly to the church then claim back on tax?

hi, my question is pretty much the title. my husband and I give weekly at our parish in the planned giving and we started our tax returns last night only to find we owe the taxation office. neither of us really belives it’s right to claim back a gift, even though it is tax deductible. however if we do claim the planned giving as a tax deduction it brings what we’re owing right down so it’s affordable with what we were planning on doing. but my husband is against claiming it saying that it is then no longer our gift/sacrifice and the merits we may have received by giving weekly would come to nothing if we claim it on tax. is this right?

The government recognises the benefit of the work done by certain charities and gives them tax exemptions, which are extended to donors. The money that goes to such charities behefits society as a whole and lessens the need for the government to spend their own money on certain things, thus it is right that your tax is lessened.

You could think of it this way:

Say you have $1000 dollars you want to give to charity. If you first pay tax, at lets say 30%, you would give the government $300 and your charity $700. Or you take the tax break and give it all to the charity.

So if you and your husband feel bad about the tax break you get, just work out how much it equates to and donate that also.

There really isn’t a cut and dry answer to this. Both positions are acceptable.

Your husband’s reference to losing merit probably goes to the Gospel (Mt 6:1-4) passage about not doing things in order to obtain praise or some other return in this life. This is a wise attitude and one that I applaud.

It seems to me that since you say in your OP that both of you think that one should not claim back a gift…you should stick with this principle.


For myself, I don’t see the benefit in deciding to pay more taxes than you need to, which is exactly what you are doing. It would be the same effect as if you were to claim a tax deduction for your donation to the church, and then donate the amount you saved on your taxes to the government–which you are allowed to do. You are just giving more to the government than is required. And if you want to give more than is required, why not do it as a donation–after taking the deduction for the church?

Why is it either/or?:confused:

Take the refund and give that to the church too.

That way the Church gets more!:thumbsup:

Catechism 2043:

2043 The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.85

**The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.**86

I have not read anything that equates sacrifice with an undue burden. Whether you claim your tithe on taxes or not does not take away from the Church, and so what you have given will remain a gift regardless.

Why would you pay more taxes than you need to? How much good for your family and others could you do with that money. You are not claiming back a gift. You are telling the government you gave gifts to the church in return the government says you can remove that amount from your gross income. It is because if the idea that if you help others through charity then the government does not have to.

You should claim every deduction allowable by law. The church does so you should too.

You may see the answer more clearly after asking yourself this question: What is the reason we give to the church? I think there are (at least) two possible answers, which may lead to different conclusions:

  1. “We give in order to provide for the material needs of the church, and to help those in need. This is one way in which we follow the commandments to love God and love one another.”

If this is your answer, then you have fulfilled the commandment of love. Your act of love will not be diminished by obtaining a tax benefit, so go ahead and declare it on the tax return.

  1. “We give as an act of spiritual mortification. We come closer to God by denying our attachment to money, the pride associated with wealth, and the comforts money can buy. In this way, we are better able to love God”

If this is your answer, then perhaps you should not seek financial benefit from the tax deduction. However, you may still declare it on your return, calculate the tax deduction that results from it, and donate that also to charity. To not declare it would amount to donating money to the government in the amount of the available tax deduction; you can decide for yourself how virtuous that would be.

**JRKH **remarked on Matthew 6:1-4, in which Jesus tells us that we should not give proudly and prominently, so as to be noticed or praised. Since our tax deductions are not likely to draw attention to ourselves, or enhance our status in society, or puff up our pride, I do not think this passage should be interpreted to suggest that we should avoid the financial benefit of tax deductions for charitable contributions.

^^^This. If I did not claim my deduction for “charitable giving,” my taxes would be over $1k higher.

Yes, of course it is fine to do so. The Church has NO teaching otherwise.


I should make clear that my reference to Mt 6:1-4 should not be taken as a hard and fast command…My intent in referencing it has more to do with examining why we give - which is key to whether there is merit or not - and the OP’s husband expressed concern on the point of merit.

My personal opinion on the matter is this…If my giving is totally disconnected from whether it is deductible or not…Then the merit is unaffected by claiming the deduction.
In short - I’m not giving in order to claim a deduction…or any other “temporal” gain.


thanks everyone for your responses, they’ve been very helpful.

I apologize for offering a much less spiritual answer, but absolutely you MUST get your money back.

Our government, the government of these United States says you owe a bill and it is a bill you are paying. However, by not taking a legally allowable deduction you are providing a charitable contribution, albeit not deductive, to the government of the United States.

While you might say, okay, that is MY government, I will argue St. Thomas More who told the world he was the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.

Before you make another contribution to your government, please keep in mind that in 2013 you are then contributing to this President’s war on women and his support of abortion on demand. Further, by providing extra income to the government, this and other money is co-mingled so that the IRS can hire new enforcement agents who will investigate and prosecute Catholic hospitals and charities who refuse to provide contraception.

I realize this is not a sacred argument, but probably entirely too secular for these forums, but for this reason alone - the destruction of human life by my government, I have to in good conscience get as much back as possible so that I can support those charities that do support and protect life.

By voluntarily donating part of your income to the support of your church, you are relinquishing the right and title to that wealth and turning said right and title over to the church. What would have otherwise been income to you is now instead income to the church. The government currently says that the Church does not need to be taxed on donations it receives, so by refusing to claim the deduction, you are subjecting the Church’s income to tax when the IRS does not do so. It seems silly to me to do that; if you insist on impoverishing yourself more than the law demands, figure out how much your charitable deduction saves you in taxes, and give that amount to the Church as well.

These are both very interesting takes on the matter. I like both of them…:thumbsup:


A lot of people give opinions but no one quotes Jesus. He said give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what Caesars. Caesar says give and you can deduct. If you give to get the merits then you give amiss. God’s word say to give without expecting to be repaid.

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