Tax Deduction Morality Redux — And a question about generosity

by Debt Hater on March 26, 2007

I love a good discussion!

And thanks to everyone who commented on my last post about this topic.

It shook out like this: It’s perfectly moral and legal to claim tithes and charitable contributions on your taxes.
Plus, as several of you (Papa Rage, Sdr, NCN and MBH) pointed out, if you believe in tithes, than you do 10% of your GROSS income. The government, therefore, should only be taxing us on the NET, which is GROSS – TITHES.
But we all know that ain’t happening, so then Uncle Sam is taking too much of my income. The deduction simply makes sure that I get it back.
I think that’s fair.
But I still don’t think, personally, that it pays to claim every penny, some of which probably isn’t deductible anyway (as Mighty Bargain Hunter pointed out, handing money to a vagrant or panhandler is not claimable — besides there’s no receipt!).

So let me pose this question: Is generosity part of a good personal finance (not to mention personal growth)?

I ask because I think that sometimes personal finance can make you develop tunnel vision — all you see is your money, your goals and dreams… like that’s all that matters.

This past Christmas I didn’t buy gifts for my family because I was saving for my wedding and just didn’t have the cash to spend on gifts that most of my family weren’t going to use anyway (no matter how hard I think about the gifts and try to get something they’ll like and use).
Honestly, I was hoping we could do some fun things as a family instead of worrying about spending, spending, spending. I truly don’t think it’s the gift that’s important — it’s just more stuff.
But I think I forgot something. It’s fun to give people things. It feels good.
Just like when my mom sent me a chunk of cash and some bath gel and lotion because I had been feeling blue. It cheered me up a bunch. It wasn’t so much that she spent the money, it was that she bothered to think about it and go through the effort of giving me something.

I think it’s important not to forget that.

I don’t believe in lending money to friends and family, but what’s wrong with giving it? Especially when someone’s in a bind? I know we all believe in fiscal responsibility — if you handled your money properly, you wouldn’t be in a bind — but stuff happens. If you were on the other end, wouldn’t you want someone to help you out without you asking (or begging) or hanging over you until you paid it back?
I also think that generosity comes back. Whoever you hooked up will remember and someday return the favor — even if it’s not in cash. And even if they never do, it all comes back to you.

I’m putting away that money my mother gives me just for her. She’s being generous (too much so, but she’s hard headed too… so that’s where I get it!) and I’ll do the same for her.

So, while I don’t believe in spending for the sake of spending (or the sake of a manufactured holiday), I won’t skip out on the Xmas gifts for my fam again. It’s important to me that they know how important to me they are. I think that’s worth spending a little cash.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Papa Rage March 26, 2007 at 9:29 am

>Is generosity part of a good personal finance (not to mention personal growth)?
I believe having the attitude that “right now I have enough money” gets you 3 things
1) ability to live within your means because you have enough right now
2) ability to give generously to meet the needs of others because your needs are already met
3) a greater ability to be successful in every financial thing you do because you are focused on the positive and not obsessed with the negative.
The answer for me is that “yes” it’s a part of good personal finance. For those who are just starting to get their finances in order it seems too easy to jump from one “not enough” to the next.
I don’t have a monthly cushion so I’m living paycheck to paycheck. Oh, now I don’t have an emergency fund. Oh, now I don’t have a big enough emergency fund. Oh, I’m not saving enough for retirement, kids college …
If you’re not careful you feel like you never have enough, even though you are doing better with your money than you ever have before.


Jen March 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I am not a huge giver of financial or physical gifts but I do try to donate my time to help friends in need, etc. I once gave a $100 donation to my best friend’s cousin who has some sort of disease. I did it because at the time I could and it was a fund raiser for her that we were attending. I promise that money came back to me tenfold, but I later found out that she was a heavy drinker which made her condition worse and that was why she needed more cash. Wish I had known that ahead of time, but in the long run the gift benefitted me I think. I am a big believer in giving your time if you can. And I am like DH because I love to give gifts just to give them. I overdid it BIG time this xmas though!!


Cheryl March 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Interesting topic. I used to be the person who would “give til it hurts” to anyone in my circle who was in need….but when I began my debt payment plan and started saving, I developed the “tunnel vision” that youi mentioned! NOW, I still am a giver, but I think and pray real hard about the giving…and most times will give groceries or a gift card for gas before giving actual cash. God will provide us will all we need…I believe that, and when I give, whether it be money or of myself via time or talent, he will give back when I am in need.


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