Careful with Foreign Church Deductions

GiftLaw Government Documents.

Taxpayer was born in a foreign country. Her parents and family were "devout Catholics." There was a civil war and the guerrilla forces attacked her hometown. Her uncle, a Catholic priest, and 400 other Catholics were killed by being buried alive. The local Catholic church and seminary were destroyed. Taxpayer left her native country and moved to the United States. She now is a naturalized citizen and member of a Catholic church in her home state. Following completion of her education in 1996, she accepted an engineering position with a large company. She has continued to send funds to her home country to rebuild Catholic churches. However, because she fears for her life she transfers the funds to a cousin who then makes the gifts to the foreign Catholic churches.
The taxpayer did not make gifts to a qualified charitable organization, and the IRS therefore denied the deduction.
Taxpayer responded that the gifts were transferred to the cousin and directly supported the Catholic churches. Because the gifts were transferred "for the use of" a qualified organization and the Catholic churches are part of a worldwide organization with many exempt USA entities, the taxpayer claimed that the deduction should be permitted.  However, the court noted that the gifts were to the cousin and therefore not to a qualified charitable organization under Sec. 170(c)(2).

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