Would a very necessary, but now broken, piece of office equipment qualify to be counted as a 'loss'. The value being subtracted from the business income subject to Ma'aser Kesafim?

If allowed, what value should be use for the calculations? The cost of replacing the machinery?


This can be relatively complicated because of the type of equipment and whether this can be considered a one time expense or a capital investment in the business. As stated explicitly below, replacing equipment can be deducted, as long as it it not due to negligence on the part of the owner, but one would have to ask specifically if the depreciation of the original equipment should be considered as well as the expected lifetime of that equipment.

The concept of being a nine-tenths partner with Hashem can be used in this consideration.

This reminds me of the old joke about the original name of the clothing store that shows this concept. Hashem and Shneider which translates into English as a famous modern store

As we see in Deducting Expenses From Our Maaser Obligation

To quote Rabbi David Oppenheim (1664-1736. Author of Shaalos U’Teshuvos Nishal L’Dovid. This quote can be found in Sefer Maaser Kesafim, edited by Dr. Cyril Domb, page 61), “Regarding financial Maaser, a person is a (9/10) partner with Hashem in his income. When it comes to deducting expenses, a person may deduct any expenses or losses that occur in his business as long as they are not due to his negligence, for there is a mutual liability (between the business and Maaser) …therefore any expenses incurred in earning the income, including any clothing that must be purchased for a business related journey, may be deducted”.

This concept of a person being a partner with Hashem has direct ramifications on what expenses may be deducted from our income before setting aside Maaser, and on the distribution of Maaser funds. We are only going to discuss the former in this class.

Money spent by a person to enable him to earn an income, may be deducted from his income before separating Maaser, even if it was used for this purpose unsuccessfully. Any expenditures or losses that are not for the purpose of producing more income are considered a person’s private income, and Maaser must be separated from these funds.

In light of the above, the following may be deducted from the gross income before separating Maaser by a self employed business owner: Wages paid to an employee, any inventory related expenses, cost of leasing property or vehicles, advertising, and any business related taxes.

Any financial loss caused by theft, loss, or broken machinery may also be deducted, as long as it is not due to negligence on the business owner’s part.

However, if property or vehicles were purchased for the business, the money used for this purpose is not considered a business expense, rather it is a capital investment, and Maaser must be paid on it. Depreciation of these items due to normal wear and tear may be deducted. Obviously, the cost of maintaining these items may also be deducted.

See the Shaalos U’Teshuvos Shaar Ephraim (84), Chut HaShoni (90), Shvus Yaaakov (Vol. 2 Siman 86), and Avkas Roechel (3). See also the Pischei Teshuva (Yoreh De’ah 249:1), Nodeh B’Yehuda (Yoreh De’ah Vol. 2 Siman 199), Chavos Yair (224), and Ahavas Chessed (Vol. 2 18:2).

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