A woman donated money to a church without the permission of her husband. After learning about the donation, the husband argued that he is also the owner of that money and does not agree with the donation. He has claimed his rights as the common owner and asked the church to return the money. Does the church violate the 501(c)(3) rule if it returns the money to the couple?
This kind of thinking certainly seems to be a throwback to earlier times. Unless the gift was so large as to seriously affect their standard of living, it is hard to imagine that a husband would demand his wife’s contribution back.
But if you are in one of the nine states that are considered “community property” states, it is possible that he has a legal claim on the funds. Check with a local lawyer to see if there is a legal basis. Since we don’t have community property rules in Pennsylvania and since they vary from state to state anyway, I won’t hazard a guess.
Whether or not he has a legal basis, you aren’t likely to lose your exemption if you give it back. A board can normally settle a claim in order to avoid litigation or adverse publicity.