Section: Questions Category: Money Matters
TAGS:ma'aser money matters tzedaka
|Money Matters - Stolen Tzedaka Check|
|Submitted by anonymous Answered by Rav Yehonoson Hool|
a) If the agent was a representative of the charity organization, it could well be argued that the money is considered to have been given over to them (even though it has not yet left your account - if a borrower repays his debt with a cheque, which subsequently gets stolen from the creditor, we would not expect the borrower to pay the creditor again). A claim against the agent will probably be unsuccessful according to the Halachah. If the thief then withdraws the money, the money lost is lost to ma'aser. If however, you manage to cancel the cheque, it turns out that no money actually left your account, so you would still have to pay the money to tzeddakah. Nonetheless, you can deduct the cost of cancelling the cheque. This is because if you don't cancel it, the organization will not get the money at all, as mentioned above, so it is assumed that the organisation would be willing to compensate you for stopping the cheque, because that way they gain the difference that you will give them afterwards from the sum that never left your account.
If the agent was not a representative of the charity organization but rather your own shaliach to pass the cheques to the organization, then even if the thief managed to cash the cheque you would still owe money to tzedakkah, since the tzedakkah never received anything. However, you need not pay out the full amount of the stolen cheque to tzedakkah. Instead, you may count this theft as a loss of earnings, and deduct that from your account of income, and adjust your ma'aser account accordingly.
b) In general, one makes an account of all one's income, deducts one expenses and pays 10% of the difference to tzedakkah. Expenses includes any expenses that resulted from the pursuit of profit, such as employees' wages, rental of offices, insurance, taxes etc, and any losses such as theft or damage that was not caused by one's own recklessness. Not included in expenses in this regard, are expenses that are not related to the attempt to make money, such as home insurance, food, car used for private use etc.
Since in your case the money lost came from the income/expense account, as pointed out above you can consider this as a loss of earnings, and thus this would offset the subsequent gain of . (It's worth noting, however, that when making a reckoning of expenses and profit for ma'aser purposes, each year must be reckoned differently - one should not include one year's losses to offset the next year's profits.)