Q: My church is considering purchasing a piece of commercial property and using it for our new church facility.

The seller has one price in mind. However, we would like to make an offer on the property and allow the seller to make a contribution to the church for a portion of the sales price. This will lower the selling price for us and provide a taxable contribution to the seller.

Can we do this?

A: If you and the seller are in agreement as to price, you can structure the transaction to benefit both the seller and your church. You will, however, need a willing seller who wants to make a contribution to the church. You can’t force someone to make a donation if he isn’t inclined to do so.

Keep in mind that the structure of the transaction must be fair and at arm’s length. If the purchase price is agreed to and the seller wants to make a contribution to the church, you should be fine.

If the church has an attorney, you should consult further with the attorney on what you are planning to do.

Aug. 19, 2005.