For the first time ever, we got an accountant to do our taxes this year. We are out of the country through most of tax season, and there are a few things I wasn’t sure how to deal with – and for now I am farming out all of the hard things I can.
(Let me say that I am happier than ever to live in a country where our taxes pay for some amazing things, like roads and health care, but this does make me laugh.)
An accountant was recommended who was familiar with YWAM. (Because of the way we raise our own support, we are in a weird income tax category.) One of the things he said when we met with him really struck me. I can’t make an exact quote, but it was something like this,
“You YWAMers. You shouldn’t have to pay much income tax because you give away so much of your income. It gets used for your work and donated to people who need it. You give more than any people I know.”
This wasn’t exactly news to me. I know how much of our “income” actually goes towards things for work, and I’ve seen statistics on how much the average Canadian (and Canadian church-goers) give to registered charities. (And known that the dollar amounts we give are way above that, despite the fact that our income is much, much lower.)
This isn’t to pat myself on the back – generosity is woven into the DNA of YWAM as an organization, and certainly we are far from exceptional among our colleagues. But I have been thinking a lot about this accountant’s words, and pondering some of the “why” of this, and have a few thoughts.
One factor is that we are often in positions where we see the value of the work. I’ve seen some of my colleagues having tremendous impact over the years. Sometimes the best way I can lend support is through my skills or encouragement. Sometimes the best way I can lend support is through sharing our finances.
Another factor is that we are often rubbing shoulders with people in real need. We are in positions where our hearts (and wallets) are moved by compassion. If the hospital is going to stop caring for my friends’ baby because they can’t pay an $800 deposit (and then the baby will probably die)? No, I don’t have $800, but I can get $800, and figure out how to adjust our budget to accommodate later. (Because what’s the value of $800 compared with the life of my friends’ baby?)
Most of the needs are smaller, less dramatic, and more regular than this. Our friend’s dad is in the hospital, and she wants to travel to him to take some food. A missionary friend is trying to raise the cost of books, so that her kids can have a decent education. Another friend has health insurance, and so will be cared for at the hospital, but needs money to pay for the trip to the hospital. You get the idea.
Sure, there are other ways I would like to spend that money – other things I had planned to spend it on (often things we “need”). But I find I don’t miss it.