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Protection of Charitable Donations

Court rules that charitable contributions made by bankrupt church member cannot be recovered.

Key point 9-09. Bankruptcy trustees are prohibited by the federal Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Protection Act from recovering contributions made by bankrupt debtors to a church or other charity prior to declaring bankruptcy, unless the contributions were made with an intent to defraud creditors. This protection extends to any contribution amounting to less than 15 percent of a debtor's gross annual income, or more if the debtor can establish a regular pattern of giving more. In addition, the Act bars bankruptcy courts from rejecting a bankruptcy plan because it allows the debtor to continue making contributions to a church or charity. Again, this protection applies to debtors whose bankruptcy plan calls for making charitable contributions of less than 15 percent of their gross annual income, or more if they can prove a pattern of giving more.

A federal court in California ruled ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • November 1, 2009

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