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TaxWatch: IRS says evangelist’s gifts to strangers, private planes and tips to waiters aren’t tax deductible

A judge had bad news for an evangelist seeking tax write-offs as he spread the word of God.

Devout Catholic Robert Oliveri spent almost $40,000 as he crisscrossed the country and paid for meals and gifts to strangers and acquaintances in his evangelical activities, a Tax Court judge said the expenses didn’t count as tax deductible contributions to charity.

Oliveri had wanted to deduct expenses including generous tips to restaurant servers. ‘For the expense to be deductible, the charity, rather than the taxpayer, must receive the primary benefit,’ the judge wrote.

Oliveri had wanted to deduct expenses including generous tips to restaurant servers, and private planes he flew in as he spread the gospel in states including Colorado, Florida, Texas and North Carolina.

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