When the government began its destructive response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Louis Goffinet determined to help his neighbors weather the storm. But no good deed goes unpunished, and now the IRS is demanding that Goffinet pay more than $16,000 in taxes for helping the needy.
As the Hartford Courant reports, in April 2020 Goffinet started a fundraiser on Facebook, asking his friends to chip in a few dollars to help buy food for struggling neighbors that the government put out of work. By the time summer hit, more than $30,000 had poured in. Goffinet, a middle-school teacher who was stuck at home doing Zoom classes, used the money to buy and deliver food, help with rent, and buy gasoline for over 100 families in Connecticut.
Everything seemed to be going great for Goffinet’s charity efforts—until he got a letter from Facebook telling him that he owed about $16,000 in taxes on the donated money. The IRS requires third-party transaction sites like Facebook to issue a 1099-K form on transactions greater that $20,000. And unlike ordinary people, the IRS is evil and does not care that Goffinet spent the money on needy families.
Goffinet told the Hartford Courant that he was “shocked” to receive the bill. “It’s such a big amount. It’s not like I can say, ‘Oh, for the next month or two, I’ll dial down my expenses and I’ll save $16,000.’”
Yet, unless he can get enough new donations to help cover the amount demanded, that’s exactly what he’ll have to do—or face confiscation of his property by the IRS. Registration as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization could conceivably have helped Goffinet avoid the tax bill, but that’s no small task.
At Voluntaryism In Action, many hours every month are devoted to filling out paperwork to keep our tax-exempt status. This isn’t reasonable for anyone, let alone a 27-year-old science teacher who’s just trying to help his neighbors. And this isn’t the first time that the government has tried to hurt people who’ve helped others during the pandemic. But this is yet another way that the government victimizes people: by punishing those who are efficient at providing aid to others—when they do not follow the government’s arbitrary rules.