Rivevos Ephraim: Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky Paid Taxes On Mishloach Manos!


rav-yaakov-kamenetzkyThere is a chiyuv to give maaser from your income. If you receive an expensive mishloach manos, do you need to give maaser from it? This was the question asked to Rav Ephraim Greenblatt  (Rivevos Ephraim 6:389), rov in Memphis and talmid muvhak of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l.

Rav Greenblatt answered that he saw in a sefer, called Uvacharta Bachaim, that Rav Chaim Kreiswirth, the Antwerpen rov,  said in a hesped for Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky  zt”l, that Rav Yaakov would report as income and pay taxes on mishloach manos that he received. If so, then similarly one should give maaser. He concludes by saying that nevertheless the matter needs further research.

Titein emes l’Yaakov!

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  1. I can see how this Halacha feature of the Matzav.com Website can benefit its regular readers. Although I must point out that the manner in which the Halachos are presented is for the most part counterintuitive. I would recommend that these Halachic rulings be presented in a similar way that the Yahrtzeit stories are written – very informative. Because many times these short piskei Halacha can be more misleading than not.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Nice story but hardly halacha l’maase. Gift recipient are not required to include that in their income. So either R’ Yaakov was being overly cautious or R’ Yaakov, considering his status as a rov, considered his mishloach manos as a form of tip which is includable in income tax. It is much more likely that what R’ Yaakov paid taxes on were the checks that were included in his mishloach manos. Either way, you cannot derive from R’ Yaakov’s actions whether one must give maaser on expensive mishloach manos. Furthermore, the question and the answer don’t make sense. There is no logical distinction between an expensive mishloach and a cheap mishloach manos. Is he suggesting that I have to give maaser (or pay taxes) on the dozen of so miniature bottles of kedem wine I will receive this purim?

  3. It is true that a gift is not subject to Income Tax. However R’ Yaakov probably felt that since he is a Rov the “expensive mishloach manos” that he was getting is compensation for his position.

  4. Lakewood CPA is correct
    Honestly FRum should read more carefully (gift tax is when the gift is ABOVE the limit of $12k per person)
    If a Rabbi gets anything because of his position (like money from chometz, siddur kiddushin etc.) that is taxable COMPENSATION because it’s not a “gift”
    (we call it shochad maybe ;))

  5. In Banks v. Commissioner, 62 T.C.M. 1611 (1991) special offerings were given to a minister on four separate occasions during the year. The offerings were in addition to the minister’s salary and amounted to more than $40,000 annually. The members of the church who gave the offerings did not take a tax deduction for their contribution because their intent was to give a true gift. However, the Commissioner was able to use the Duberstein case and show that the gifts were in fact for services rendered.

    Testimony of congregation members indicated that transfers were designed to compensate the minister for the excellent work the minister had done and to encourage them to remain with the congregation. The court also found that the amounts transferred to the minister were part of a highly structured program for transferring money to the minister on a regular basis. The regularity of the payments from church members to the minister also “suggests that the transfers did not emanate from a detached and disinterested generosity but, instead, were designed to compensate for service as a minister”.

    The same type of ruling was upheld in Goodwin v. United States, 67 F.3d 149 (8th Cir. 1995). The court held that the gifts to the pastor and his wife were taxable income based on evaluating the donor’s intent. Although the gifts were anonymous and not coerced, payments were made on a regular basis; were systematically organized and collected by church personnel; were substantial compared to pastor’s salary; and were made to retain the pastor’s services.

    So are love offerings, collected regularly and systematically by the church and paid to the pastor, taxable compensation?


    These payments should be included in the pastor’s W-2 and considered as part of the minister’s annual compensation.

    IRC Section 102 stipulates that “gross income does not include the value of property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or inheritance”. An employee who receives this type of gift, however, shall not exclude from gross income any amount transferred by or for an employer to, or for the benefit of, an employee.

    So what exactly is a gift?

    Over the past 47 years, several cases have highlighted similar scenarios.

    In the Commissioner v. Duberstein, 363 U.S. 278, 285 (1960) case, the courts concluded that whether money or property transferred by an employer to an employee is an excludable gift is based on the reason for the employer’s action. If the employer’s reason for giving is based on a detached or disinterested generosity, affection, respect, admiration, charity or like impulses, the transaction is a gift and excludible from compensation.

    However in Borgadus v. Commissioner, 302 U.S. 34, 45 (1936) if the gifts are made or intended to be made for any services rendered or to be rendered, then the gifts would be taxable.

    So a donor can give based on a detached or disinterested generosity and it cannot be perceived to be based on services rendered or to be rendered. These gifts are not taxable tothe pastor and the donor does not receive a charitable deduction for income tax purposes.