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Distressed samaritan



Community pantries manifest more than the bayanihan spirit during these difficult times. After the chaos and death at Angel Locsin’s pantry last week, plus the flak the actor got from barangay officials and critics, it seems giving away free food to needy neighbors can prove costly and emotionally draining.

Locsin spent a fortune on food to give away and, in return, got traumatized when her grocery-packed pantry shelves were mobbed. One man who squeezed himself in the long line of the needy died of a heart attack. A consolation though for Locsin was the hard lesson of benevolence not being absolutely praiseworthy.

With cops and counter-communists also exposing the leftist background of some community pantry organizers, the supposedly harmless humanitarian act has earned its reputation as a political propaganda tool and controversy magnet.

In the United States, engaging in similar charitable activities to ease the hunger of people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic seemed stress-free. Last year, Connecticut teacher Louis Goffinet, 27, resorted to crowdfunding to get donors for his free grocery and meal campaign for local families.

Through Facebook Fundraiser, Goffinet raised $41,000, which he used to pay for 31 Thanksgiving dinners, 20 gift cards for families to buy holiday gifts, and 140 grocery store visits at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in November.

Unknown to the eighth grade math and science teacher, the cash donations deposited to his personal bank account would eventually get him in trouble.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the US counterpart of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, is charging Goffinet $16,031 in income tax for the $41,000 he raised and spent for charity. He was shocked to receive the billing early this year.

After consulting tax experts and lawyers, Goffinet learned that proceeds from a personal fundraiser are not tax-deductible and charity drives are only exempted from tax if approved by the IRS.

Meanwhile, Goffinet has launched another fundraiser. Not that he is stubborn.

He is now asking kind-hearted individuals for cash donations to help him pay the $16,031 tax due on or before the deadline of payment extension on 17 May.