Tax Deductible Receipts and Your Attitude of Giving

By Dr. Ken Matto

(Phil 4:17 KJV) Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

According to the 1828 Webster Dictionary, the following are two definitions of give:

“To bestow; to confer; to pass or transfer the title or property of a thing to another person without an equivalent or compensation.”

“To confer; to grant.”

If you look at the two definitions above you will notice two principles of giving: 1) without compensation; 2) to grant. Basically, giving carries with it the understanding of conferring something upon someone without expecting any type of compensation in return. If you notice, one of the other definitions is “to grant.” A grant is something given away without any expected return of compensation. So basically the definition of giving, is to give something away without the expectation of something in return.

Sometimes there are personal ministries, whether on the Internet or in person where the person or persons have not set up a non-profit status. Perhaps the ministry is small and may remain that way. If that person begins to struggle and they ask for help, what is your attitude? Will you give if you do not receive a tax-deductible receipt (TDR)? If you refuse to give because you want that receipt, then you need to check your motives for giving. Since when did the IRS become your benefactor? If a small ministry is faithfully sending out the gospel and you refuse to give unless you get a receipt, then you are showing your trust is in the IRS and not God! God’s principles for giving are not negated by the fact that a receipt is not issued. God can bless much more than the IRS. Tax deductible receipts have been used of Satan to stop many believers from giving to the Lord’s work under the guise of “proper stewardship.” This is false stewardship because the work of the Lord will be hindered unless a receipt is issued. I think it is interesting that we spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year on junk for the house, the lawn, the car, etc., but when a decision has to be made to give a few dollars to a Christian ministry that does not or cannot give receipts, then we close the wallet and say, “Well we want to be able to deduct our contributions because that is wise stewardship.” Then in the same breath they are on the run to the nearest WalMart to buy more personal junk which will be sold at their yard sale in one year. Is that wise stewardship? Christians should not be concerned as to whether they receive a receipt or not, they should be concerned about their faithfulness to the Lord in sending out the Gospel.

There is a phenomenon which has completely corrupted the biblical system of giving which the Christian has latched on to with fervor and that is the tax deductible receipt (TDR) which is given by official government recognized charities such as churches, evangelistic associations, schools and colleges, etc. I am going to limit the scope of this article to Christian organizations realizing there are organizations such as the Red Cross, CARE, ASPCA, etc. which also doles out TDRs to those who donate. One of the concepts behind the TDR is to be able to reduce the amount of tax a person pays so they would be able to give more to the charity of their choice. It was supposed to put more money back into the pocket of the taxpayer.

As I said, I wanted to limit this to Christianity. Enter the Johnson Amendment of 1954. In 1954, then Senator Lyndon Johnson, authored a piece of legislation known as the Johnson Amendment. It was the beginning of the tax exempt status for churches with specific prohibitions added to it. Organizations formed under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code are subject to limits or absolute prohibitions on engaging in political activities and risk loss of status as tax exempt status if violated. Specifically, they are prohibited from conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office. In other words, the Johnson amendment was an unconstitutional gag order placed on churches so they would not be allowed to endorse any specific candidate for office. The main reason behind this was to prevent the churches from exposing the corruption of elected officials and because the church has bought into this and acquiesced, we now have the most corrupt Senate and Congress. If the church had rejected it, then it would have went away by repeal because every church in every district could have preached against those who voted for it and got rid of them. The church was designed by God to not only proclaim of the Gospel, but it was to be the conscience of the nation and not only of movies and TV but of Government too. Can you imagine how Senators and Congressmen/women would act on Capitol Hill if they knew that in their district back home there was 100 churches looking over their shoulders with consequences if they voted for something that was not the will of the people?

Unfortunately the reality is that because of the Johnson Amendment, the church has been hushed up which means the conscience of the nation has been kidnapped by tax exemption. We can see exactly what has happened to our nation since 1954, nothing but spiritual and moral decline. Literally, a corrupt government bought off all the Christians with the Tax Deductible Receipt and now the only thing they care about is how much can they get off on their income taxes. Prior to 1954, churches and non-profits had no restrictions on their freedom of speech or their right to endorse or challenge political candidates.

Giving with Restrictions
As I stated above, there is a strange phenomenon which has in invaded and permeated Christianity and that is the Tax Deductible Receipt. How many times have you heard people say they will not give unless they get a TDR? I have heard it and seen it in action. What has happened is that Christians have now filtered their giving through whether they will receive a TDR or not. This means that probably 80% of the ministries out there are not being funded. Now I am going to turn this to a personal nature and it is not for the reason of begging for money but just as an example and I am sure that this same scenario is played out in hundreds of small ministries across the country, and probably around the world.

When I started the Scion of Zion Internet Ministry back in 1997, I had determined at that time that I would not seek Tax Exempt status. There was a time I had reconsidered it but the consequences would be that SOZ would be a government entity like a church having the same gag order and prohibitions about preaching the truth. You can read more on this subject at:

With the advent of the Internet, many Christians have ventured to build personal ministries on line for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission and also because many media ministries have become apostate from false bible versions to embracing Roman Catholicism to fantasizing about political Israel. Yet, there are hundreds of Christian radio stations on the air and they all basically play the same old media ministries. These media ministries are all part of the good ole’ boy network of the National Religious Broadcasters. When I talk about media ministries, I am speaking about ministries such as RC Sproul who taught that dead Roman Catholics are saints, Jack Van Impe who embraces Roman Catholicism, Southwest Radio Church who has an obsession with Israel, Focus on the Family features the gospel of psychology, etc. These four will suffice.

Before the Internet became available to the public, we would be stuck listening to media ministries and now since many of them have gone apostate, God has raised up an army of Christians to go on line with gospel ministries that now have the capability to reach around the world in a second of time. (Psa 68:11 KJV) The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. Such a ministry is Scion of Zion which ministered to 168 countries in September 2019. My little homemade website has gone into the world. According to the United Nations, there are 196 nations in the world today (Nov. 2012) and I have been viewed by 168 of them. Now is that some type of coincidence? Or is that because I am a great computer person? The answer to that is no because I was operating my first personal computer for about 4 years and I did not know the difference between a file and a directory. Go ahead, I will wait till you stop laughing! In addition to a multitude of studies on here, I also give away free materials for a person’s ministry.

Now I said all that not to bring glory to myself but as an example of what many small ministries are doing on line. As I previously stated I have been on line since 1997 and some have donated funds toward this ministry and some people I have known for many years would not even give a nickel toward it because I do not give a TDR. Now the question must be asked, is what I am doing ministry? If it is, then why would my ministry not deserve any support? Why would many Christians continue to support apostate ministries instead of smaller ministries which have a honed focus? The reason, because no TDR is given.

In my case, I offer free verse by verse commentaries, hundreds of articles, and ministry literature which I must purchase along with envelopes and postage which is now 55¢ for the first ounce. I have sent literature to many places not only in the USA but to countries like Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, and others where the cost of the letters were about $2-3 and not once did I ever include a “beg letter.” Factor in the cost of having a computer, Internet connection, appropriate software, and an Internet provider to host my site. All these things cost money and I would estimate it costs over $1000 per year to run this ministry, yet most Christians would reject the claim that I am doing ministry because I am not giving a tax deductible receipt. I now want to focus on the principles of giving and the fallacy that a tax deductible receipt is the only recognized giving.

6 Questions to ask if you give only when receiving a TDR

Who is Your Benefactor?
If you give only because your government allows you a tax reduction, then you have proven that you do not have the true spirit of giving. You are looking to the government as being your provider. In the life of a Christian, where is there anything in Scripture teaching that we are to look to the government for a benefit? (Isa 45:22 KJV) Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Does it Limit Your Giving?
(Luke 6:38 KJV) Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. If you only give to ministries that give a TDR, then you have limited your giving to a very small amount of ministries. (Eccl 11:1-2 KJV) Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. {2} Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. God tells us to cast our bread on the water and give a portion to seven or even eight. That means we are to widen our scope of giving.

Whose Money Is It?
(Psa 24:1 KJV) A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. God is the one who owns the earth and all it contains which means He owns all the money in it too. When you encounter a small ministry doing the work of the Lord and you refuse to give because of a TDR, then in essence, you have become one of those who suppress the truth. If you encounter a small ministry of someone handing out tracts and you give them $20 to buy more tracts, are you not joining in that ministry to reach people when that person buys more tracts with the money you gave him? That person could probably buy 500 tracts with that money. What if you encounter that person and give nothing, then 500 people will not be reached for Christ.

Does the Government Define Ministry?
Ministry is defined by the Scriptures. (Mat 28:19-20 KJV) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Ministry is defined as obedience to the Great Commission of sending forth the Gospel to all the earth. Since when is it ministry when you give a TDR and it is not ministry when you don’t? It is defined by the faithfulness of the message.

Is it Greed?
This may not sit right with many but it must be said. Those who only give when receiving a TDR are showing that they are giving to get. If they give $100 and are able to receive back $30 on their taxes, then they only gave $70 and with the wrong motive. Did you ever wonder why so many Christians give and yet receive so little blessing? It is because they give with the wrong motive. If one gives when they only receive a TDR, they are not giving but just doing tax planning and that is not biblical giving.

What is your Concept of Ministry?
How do you view ministry? Do you believe that ministry is only a true ministry when a TDR can be issued? Do you look at the substance of the ministry and evaluate what they are teaching? What is your criteria for evaluating a ministry’s worth? (Mark 9:38-40 KJV) And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. {39} But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. {40} For he that is not against us is on our part. Here we have the scenario of the disciples seeing one man casting out devils and they had tried to stop him but Jesus rebuked the disciples and told them to forbid him not because those who are not against Him are with Him. This is the same with smaller ministries. They are not against Christ and in fact, more of them are for Christ. It is the big ministries which have walked away from the truths of the scriptures.

Reasons to Support Ministries that do not give Tax Deductible Receipts

You would be partnering with an individual who has the vision to reach people for Christ. Yes, it is true that you can partner with the larger ministries that give a TDR but you will be given no input. Once they cash your check, it is theirs. When you partnership with a single person or a small group involved in ministry, you will be able to give input into the ministry. You would not only be helping financially but also giving advice which may be valuable to their ministry.

Financial Accountability
If you help a person who has a small ministry, they will take the money you give them and use it specifically for ministry. When you support the big ministries, your donation goes into a thousand different areas. A small non-TDR ministry will normally have one focus and that is getting out the gospel. Normally a person holds a job to support their personal needs and whatever is donated can be all be used for ministry. In larger ministries, big salaries are normally paid to the head man or woman which means your hard earned donation may help pay a good six figure salary. Some of the salaries are below:

From Charity Navigator:

As of 12/17 -  Allistair Begg of Truth for Life Ministries - $258,050
As of 12/17 -  Tony Evans of Urban Alternative - $182,665
As of 6/17 - David P. Jeremiah - $108,942 - David M. Jeremiah - $175,442 (COO) both of Turning Point
As of 9/15 - Ravi Zacharias - $190,565 - Sarah Davis - $208,995 - Margaret Zacharias - $143,690 - All of RZIM International
As of 9/17 -  Philip Bowen - CEO of In Touch Ministries - $361,527
As of 6/18 - Edward Cannon - $215,719 - President of Far East Broadcasting
As of 12/17 - Christopher Larson - $260,077 - President of Ligonier Ministries
As of 6/18 - Cynthia Swindoll (President and CEO of Insight for Living) - $191,570

Now the question I ask, is how many of you reading this article make even close to what these guys pay themselves on donations from their supporters. These ministries give a TDR and pay their leaders a tremendous salary. These are not even the Charismatic salaries which go into the millions. So when you support the big ministries, you are also supporting their large salaries. Keep in mind these salaries do not include what they make in selling books and personal speaking engagements. So do you want your money to go to big salaries or do you want it working for Christ out there in the world where it is supposed to be. Did you also notice, that some of these ministries place family members on the board so consider it a double salary coming into the home. Look at Insight for Living, RZIM and David Jeremiah. They all have family members at 6 figure salaries.  Do you make 6 figures?

Their Ministry is Just as Valid
(1 Cor 4:2 KJV) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. God gives each believer a ministry but the problem is that too many Christians hide themselves behind the big ministries and think check writing is their ministry. When a Christian ventures out and starts a ministry which has the right ministry focus, then that person’s ministry is just as valid as the bigger ministry. God expects His children to reach out in ministry and not hide behind someone else’s ministry. Not every Christian is going to start an outreach ministry because not all Christians are gifted to do that. However, they may be gifted to start a ministry of compassion such as giving rides to people that need them and in that case, you can give that person a few dollars for gas. That is as valid a donation toward a ministry as giving to an evangelistic ministry. In essence, no matter what type of ministry you start, it will reach people. The idea that ministry validity is determined by the TDR is a false belief but Satan has used it mightily to starve small ministries.

Location Location Location
God has placed Christians in all parts of the world for the purpose of reaching those around them. If all Christians would get involved in their own personal ministry, then these mega-ministries would not be needed. Each ministry would be able to operate in their area and other Christians would be able to support the activities and become involved themselves. This would put the personal touch on all ministries and would be far more effective than receiving something by mail with a letter and another donation envelope.

God Assigns the Ministries
(Ephesians 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. God is the one who gives the ministries for the Kingdom to His children. When a person becomes saved, they are not saved to sit around but are saved to serve and that service has to do with “Advancing the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” as written in the New England Confederation of May 1643. Every individual Christian has a ministry because God gives spiritual gifts for the purpose of empowering the Christian. Now not every Christian is going to be attached to a large ministry but will take on the task of a personal ministry. That personal ministry could be itinerant preaching, street ministry, writing ministry, internet ministry, transportation ministry (taking people to the doctor or shopping), helps ministry, hospital ministry, nursing home ministry, etc. Just because these people do not give a TDR does that mean their ministries are second class and should not be supported? That is like telling God that He made a mistake in assigning these types of ministries.

Those Who Work…
The majority of Christians work for a living and in these times, salaries are lower and hours are longer. Those who do ministry under these conditions have fewer hours to perform their ministries. Having to give and mail out TDRs would seriously cut into the time they have for ministry. If you like what someone you know is doing in the area of ministry, then to support them without worrying about a TDR would open up hours of ministry which otherwise would be lost.

Those Who Give…
(2 Corinthians 9:6 KJV) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Nowhere in the Scriptures do I read one passage that a ministry recognized by the Government is the only one that is recognized by God. It does not matter to God whether a ministry can give a TDR or not because He looks for faithfulness in that ministry. Suppose God was to limit His blessings according to the way you give? How many blessings do you think you would be missing out on? You would be missing out on many blessings because a true giver looks for the opportunity to give, not to withhold. When you give money to someone who has a personal ministry, it is the same as sending it to a larger ministry because there is no difference in God’s sight. Ministry is ministry and if a person is obeying the Lord by becoming involved in a ministry the Lord has led him to, then it is a divinely sanctioned ministry.

I could belabor this subject with many other reasons to support personal ministries but I won’t. If you limit your giving to only those ministries which give a TDR, then you are very shortsighted in your giving and have not grasped the big picture. I am not saying it is wrong to support a ministry which gives a TDR because there are many good and Godly ministries who do. What I am emphasizing in this article is that you should not filter your giving as to whether you get a TDR or not, your filter is the faithfulness of the ministry. God is the one who blesses the giver and when you give only when you get a TDR, then you have also limited your blessings. One who is a true giver is one who sees all faithful ministries as the Lord’s ministries and if the Lord lays it upon your heart to support one or two without receiving a TDR, then you are in a good position for a great blessing from the Lord. If you do not obey that leading from the Lord, then you are in disobedience, no matter how much you give to another ministry which doles out the TDR. What I wanted to convey in this article is that personal, small, faithful ministries that do not give out a TDR are worthy of support and when you do, you are partnering with them not only on a financial level but also a personal level and that encourages people who have the small ministries. I hope you understood exactly what it is I was trying to get through, not to attack large ministries but to include small ministries in your giving and your prayers because both types of ministries have a place in God’s Kingdom outreach.