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I know there are many Jews who work for schools, synagogues, soup kitchens, and other such non-profit organizations that do a community service. Many people also give maaser money to these organizations. If you work for one of these organizations, does it count as maaser to give money to the organization that pays your salary?

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    Why do you think it could be a problem? You give money to a charity organization, why should it matter what organization it is? – jutky Nov 24 '14 at 19:07
  • @jutky It just seems like there's the potential for someone to say "this seems too self serving to truly count as maaser". – Popular Isn't Right Nov 24 '14 at 20:20
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    I heard directly from Rav Hershel Shachter that he donates about half of his salary back to his yeshiva. – Jake Nov 25 '14 at 9:10
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    In Israel, it's rather common that your Kollel "employer" insists that you give him your Maaser - or most of it. – Danny Schoemann Jun 20 at 8:20
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You can choose freely who you donate your money to, although there are guidelines on priorities in tzedaka (see e.g., here and there).

Now even if you were to benefit directly or indirectly from your giving, the full amount donated would still be counted against your maaser. The classical case is when you get a decrease in your taxes, or a refund from the government, on a certain part of your giving.

R Shimon Taub (The Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser, p. 149) writes that

One who benefits by giving tzedakah because he ends up paying less taxes is not obligated to give that profit to tzedakah. Therefore if one would have had to pay $10,000 in taxes had he not given tzedakah, but because of all the tzedakah he gave must pay only $7,000, he is not obliged to give in the profit of $3,000 to tzedakah.

He references Igrot Moshe YD 1:143 that even real benefit coming from tzedakah belongs to the donor and not to tzedakah. As such one would have fulfilled one's obligation even if reimbursed in part. This is also the conclusion of R Ari Wasserman (in his book Making it work, see p. 14 of the PDF here) quoting the same Igrot Moshe and of R Chaim Kanievsky quoted here.

See here for further details and here for a related question on getting a raise to donate to one's employer.

Of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

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