Thanks for the replies. I am still struggling with this, but am leaning towards going ahead with the offer. The last post discussed a case-by-case basis, and clearly the intent is to help a nonprofit organization with a one time contribution.
Nitzey,Would not worry much about DNR in this situation.Was told by DNR officer,there maintenance
budgets were slashed so severely by the Gov.they did not have funds to put boats on the water.All but
one of their boats was out of commission because of boat,motor or trailer issues.
Nitzey, you're footing the bill to take this individual fishing and ask that $500.00 be donated to the church? Seems to me that is a very generus offer and you're not taking in any $-only spending some to make the trip for the church's benefit.I don't see how this could be considered a "for hire" trip.
On the other hand, if you accept $ for fuel,bait or any other expenes you're now a "for hire" class. So if you're not getting any $ .............you should be in the clear. Let us know about the trip, and may God Bless!!!!!!!!!!
Here is the answer from the Coast Guard at Panama City. It is okay. The caveats are that this should not be done on a regular basis; if it was, it would be considered commercial. The passengers should be told that I am not requiring them to make a payment but their contribution to the church is a donation. I cannot remember exactly what he said about sharing of fuel expenses, but I said that I would not accept any such payment anyway. He said all my safety equipment should be up-to-date (no problem there).
When I go fishing with my usual cronies, we figure out expenses to the penny and split everything, but all this is voluntary and now we know perfectly legal.
Thanks for all the help here, and it is great to get this settled.
There is something seriously wrong with the system if a church member cannot give a fun trip to the minister and the minister's share of gas and bait (the 150.000) be donated to the church. This is not an effort to hide the proceeds of a charter as a 'donation'. Stupid rules like this make it harder and harder to donate anything.
The problem with this is that if by some chance if someone gets hurt on the trip, they will come after the owner of the vessel and the church . Even though it was a thoughtfull donation by the vessel owner . You might want to check with your insurance carrier of the legal ramifications.
It is not illegal to split gas expenses as long as you in no way make a financial benefit. I messed up and caused a huge skirmish on the forum before and here is what I found out. Talked to an officer in the coast guard and their legal department. It is o.k. To split gas the same as to would ask to in a car, the is a quote straight from their legal" just because you split gas in a car with friends does not make you a taxi driver" It even says in the regs that's sharing fuel, food and other cost are exceptions to the consideration rule.
This seems to fall into the "navel gazing" category. As someone who is not trying to skirt the law by making filthy lucre on the side with a clandestine charter service, you may be overthinking the issue here.
Seems tantamount to driving 58 in a 55 zone. Well below the radar for what the law was intended for.