I once heard something about taxation and this idea of paying on gross, probably fictitious, but a good story.
It would seem at times in Israel, the people were taxed 90% of their gross. If they paid on gross, they would have zero net income into their pocket each month. So, if they back off and begin to pay on only their net income, their remaining 10%, then they would end up with taking home about 9% of their total income.
If they are starving because of that payment, then they would have to depend on others to help,...probably the church [assuming a hypothetical Jewis LDS church over there]. If their requirements to live are more than they tithed, there is a problem--money is being moved around BECAUSE they are not allowed to decide for themselves, without being evil for not paying.
This thread moved a little. Originally, the idea was paying on what is considered surplus, which was AFTER expenses. And now we are back to paying on net, AFTER taxes, and perhaps non liquidity on things like gifts or employer premium payments for insurance.
Got a friend who's life changed significantly after divorce. AFTER he paid for child support, alimony, insurance, he barely had enough to live on (actually, he didn't have enough to live on). He was required, however, to pay that money for tithing--AND he was required often to account for the money he paid to his EX because she complained regularly to her bishop, which called his bishop, and he got called in. When he needed help from the church, it was slow and difficult to get...because after all, HE was the one who didn't pay his tithing because if he did, the blessings would most certainly be forth coming. Debt began to mount for him--serious debt.
And, the legal system certainly (in the Utah area) is pro-woman,...so he ended up spending thousands of dollars trying to get things adjusted, just to end up going deeper and deeper in debt: totally hopeless situation.
So, when it comes down to it and you are in debt, is the money you bring home after you pay for tax, and before you pay for food, housing and DEBT, considered NET income that you tithe? What happens if bill collectors come after you and seize assets and garnish your wages....I suppose it is no longer NET income. So, do you push it until the bill collects come and do that? You want to keep your temple recommend,...right?
This stuff,...well, I have to say it like it is...it frustrates me. It puts faith out there like it is some panacea for all types of problems, but negates the situation where the ram isn't in the thicket,....the blessings is not forthcoming....the medicine didn't work,...the blessings didn't produce results. We spend a lot of time talking about the 3 Israelite who were thrown in the fire in Babylon when they didn't worship the image...but we forget a whole village in Amonihah was burned alive...and THEY WERE BOTH RIGHTEOUS. And then we step back and say: "Well, they were blessed, even though they went out badly."
What about the people in the middle who aren't bad, but not quite as good as prophets and those who are super INCREDIBLE? What about them when they are hurt because of a policy that puts faith before common sense reason, and the blessings they hope for don't happen? Are they blessed because they slowly starve, they are evicted, the medicine they needed was sacrificed because they needed to pay tithing?
Where does reason fit into this?
I STRONGLY agree that what is paid is self determined. However, there is cultural pressure, sometimes intrusive (like BYU and COB interference -- which I think would be a really good case for a lawsuit IMHO) that messes with the definitions. If everyone started to pay on only their income AFTER expenses, the church would croak...so in a way, they themselves have created part of the problem: their expenses have grown accustomed, IMHO, to the influx of money--which comes from the saints primarily.
I believe in the principle of tithing. I disagree with how it has been taught and how it is generally enforced. When I start to pay tithing again, what kinds of problems will I get if I pay on my income AFTER expenses? I'm sure I will get spoken to.