Street Evangelist David R. Garza

by David R. Garza
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)

Greetings and Blessings,

Since November 2010, I have been ministering out on the intersections under the overpasses by playing Christmas Carols and Gospel Hymns on my 92-year-old Saxophone. As my Street Ministry has grown I personally hand out approximately 3000 Bible Tracts and Salvation Tracts mostly at my own expense. I get to pray for approximately 1000 motorists and pedestrians (mostly homeless). I usually receive some contributions from these people. Some have asked me if I am 'Tax Except' in order for them to receive a deduction if they want to give me a used automobile, computer, printer, etc.
My question is, 'Do I need to have a 501c' in order to accommodate a contributor's tax deductible needs, or can I just issue a statement of donation with my letterhead? Is there a maximum yearly limit to donation valuations that I can receive? Also what kind of certifications do I need in order to get city permits? (I am a 66 year old Service connected disabled veteran).

Thanks,
David R. Garza ><>
Soldiers Of The Cross

Comments for Street Evangelist David R. Garza

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Street Evangelist David R. Garza
by: Dr. Thomas

Hi David, thanks for writing. Your street ministry sounds like it is touching many people.

You ask many technical questions and we do not give legal advice or specific instructions about the law your questions raise.

But, some general comments may be useful to you.

1.) If people want to donate to your ministry they should not be making you the middleman as a broker of tax 'benefits'. If they value the ministry, they should just donate to keep it alive. If they want a money 'benefit' for some item -- such as a used car -- they should just sell it and give you some of the proceeds.

2.) The IRS traditionally has an annual amount people can donate without documentation (such as putting money on the plate at Sunday services).

3. As far as local permits are concerned, the local government (which is a for profit corporation listed in Dun & Bradstreet with an overstuffed investment portfolia) will most likely hassle you at some point and try to fine you on various pretexts (pure profit for them) or make you purchase a permit to practice your faith (more pure profit for them).

So, if you want to sleep with the government as the Israelites did -- pay up and be grateful for the privilege.

After Joseph took the land of the Israelites for Pharoah and levied a 20% tax on the fruits of their labor, the Israelites proclaimed "We are grateful to my lord that we can be Pharoah's slaves"(Genesis 47:25-26)

Your questions boil down to this: Should you make your ministry a commercial entity -- a cash cow for the profit of the gov -- or should it be a direct message from the heart to inspire your listeners? Most Christians are in commerce with the gov. But, you have to decide.

If you decide your ministry is a commercial entity, then query http://irs.gov and your county ordinances for your marching orders on how you may and may not proceed.

Hope this helps clarify your thinking.

All the best.

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