Thank you for your interest in understanding the Mission|Sicily budget deficit. We’d like to explain why such a deficit exists, what we’re doing about it, and how you can help.
First of all, a little history might be helpful, regarding the two primary deficit causes.
1) When we launched to the field in 2013, we were not “fully funded”, but were allowed by our mission agency to leave, feeling that the timing was right for our family, and that we could reasonably make up the gap along the way, gaining new support as we showed progress on the field. Furthermore, we had/have the ability to work, as Italian citizens, in order to make up shortfalls. This proved to be both a blessing and a curse (more later).
2) In 2013, Italian legislation, building on a treaty between the US and Italy, was still very lenient, allowing for expats and missionaries like us to take tax advantage of a nice little loophole. Said loophole permitted us to be “tax domiciled” in the US (while working in Italy) and thus avoid extremely high income tax over here on the Italian side of things. This was sure to save us around $15,000 USD per year. But, alas, it was not to last.
Unfortunately, that legal loophole was closed the very next year after we settled in to the field (no doubt due to the rise in immigration and the refugees who were flooding in to the country), and wanting to be fully compliant, we began paying into the Italian tax system at a much greater cost. Furthermore, we’d only really been able to maintain our current (under-budgeted) support balance, gaining some new partners and experiencing the normal attrition of others (who had perhaps committed to only one or two years).
That said, we spent the next tax year trying to recuperate from a huge blow of a €12,000 Euro tax bill (in one year), that we owed out of pocket, while just keeping our heads above water financially. We did not buy a car for the first year, and could only afford a car worth €500 the next year. This 20+ year old, two door French car would barely move. So, we set about making several key changes to our tax risks, for example, decreasing our “perceived” salary by taking a clergy housing allowance and reducing our tax bracket. Said salary, by the way, has not changed in over 4 years, and is set by our agency.
While helpful, these changes haven’t resolved everything, and this was essentially the catalyst for our 2016 summer visit to the states – to help us meet the budget. To sum things up a bit, we’ve made every change that we could legally, we’ve lived on a shoestring budget since 2013, foregoing many “necessities” that we counted as luxuries, such as shoe racks, closet racks for clothes, kitchen cabinets, basic furniture, etc. By God’s grace we’ve always had food, and a warm place to lay our heads at night. God is good.
We have been able to do some part time work as English teachers, in order to make ends meet with our personal budget. However, that side job is now becoming a distraction from new ministry opportunities. At the time of this writing, we are still at an overall monthly budget deficit of about $2,500 per month as a mission, and the Italian taxes (while decreasing over the last year) are still putting a strangle hold on us, since we’re also still paying some on previous years. This is what prompted the 6 week trip of 2018.
We know that we need some urgent and sustained help in order to continue what has, over the last two years, become an increasingly fruitful mission. We are seeing good results at exactly what we set out to do: to Make Disciples, Plant Churches, and Build Bridges of hope in Sicily. If you’re more of a detailed, accounting-type person, who’d like to know more (in a helpful way), then I’ve an outline PDF prepared to send you. Just ask below! If you’d like to do something immediately, you can click this link to get started.
Got questions or comments?
Thank you for listening to our hearts, and responding as you feel inclined. Blessings!
The Alex Family