TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.

Are you a full-tithe payer?

Yes
13
68%
No
6
32%
 
Total votes: 19

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wayfarer
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TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by wayfarer » 11 Jul 2012, 11:33

Question 10 includes two parts, Tithing and Word of Wisdom. I have separated them for purposes of meaningful discussion.

10a. Are you a full-tithe payer?

My answer is YES.

And yes I pay a full tithe, something less than gross income, and I haven't been able to figure out my income for years, so it is what it is. I feel good about it.

Many people think there is huge pressure to pay 10% of gross income (before taxes or any other deductions), and some recent talks from general authorities have implied it, but most definitely have not said it. Tithing is 10% of something: and what that something is, is entirely up to you. End of story. Here is the best statement of official church policy. Although the italicized statement was only in the FP letter as shown, later statements of this policy, including in the current CHI, use exactly these words:
First Presidency Letter, March 19, 1970 wrote:What is a proper tithe?
For your guidance in this matter, please be advised that we have uniformly replied that the simplest statement we know of is that statement of the Lord himself that the members of the Church should pay one-tenth of all their interest annually, which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this. We feel that every member of the Church should be entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord, and to make payment accordingly.
As Ray likes to 'parse' things:

note the grammatical construct around how 'interest' is defined: "which is understood to mean income". This is phrased in passive voice, meaning here it is an assumption without attribution -- an interpretation, one among many.

How you interpret what "one-tenth of all your interest annually" means to you is ENTIRELY UP TO YOU. It's personal. It's private, and no-one is justified in making any other statement than this.

Most members of the church that pay a full tithe presume that 'full tithe' is computed on 'gross income', that is before taxes and other deductions are taken out. This is one interpretation. Some who have this interpretation feel that anything less is potentially cheating the Lord out of some money. I do not think it wise to allow this kind of pressure on your personal interpretation.

Other interpretations include:

- Net income after taxes. In Mitt Romney's disclosed financial statements on his 3-4 million dollars worth of income, he paid X in taxes, and Y in tithing. When I computed it at the time, I figured out that he is paying on net-after-taxes, and not on gross income. No big deal, still a huge amount of money, but it's one very faithful person's example.

- Net income after essential expenses. Businesses consider 'income' the money made (profit) after expenses and cost of goods sold are computed. For example, I make a certain amount of money, but my job requires a lot of essential expenses just to be in the job. Many of these expenses are not reimbursed. I don't consider those 'business expenses' to be part of my income, because if I had a different job for the same amount of money, I wouldn't have to pay them. Where is this line? Could be anywhere -- the point is, it's up to you.

- Interest income only. In my case, this would be zero, because I don't get any interest on my money in this economy. That hardly seems fair to the church or the Lord, but that's up to you. It is one interpretation of 'interest'.

- Net of historical overpayments. It is possible that I dramatically overpaid my tithing for whatever reason in a prior year. If this is the case, one is justified in paying the net of what you would owe this year less the overpayment. This could be zero.

- Nothing at all. If you don't have income or interest in this year for whatever reason, then you don't have to pay tithing. If I had $50K worth of income, but lost $90K on a property sale, I have no income this year. period. And I might have a loss carry forward into next year. If I pay nothing, I can still declare that I am a full tithe payer, because I'm paying 10% of nothing. It does not matter if the loss is recognized on taxes. It's only your personal interpretation that matters.

A couple other fallacies float about with tithing.

Retro-tithing. Some people think that they need to 'catch up' on historical tithing when they get 'behind'. Nothing in the instructions says this. The question is not "have you been a full-tithe payer" but rather "are you a full-tithe payer". Present tense, indicative. If you were not a full tithe payer as of December 2011, and have been paying a full tithe on your income since May of this year. As of July, now, you are a 'full-tithe payer'.

Cascaded Tithing. Tithing is to be paid on interest, which can be interpeted as some form of income. A gift from a parent to a child may or may not be part of a tithing model, but let's think about it for a moment. First, it's important to teach children the principle of tithing, so having them pay tithing on monetary gifts may be a good idea as a training tool. But when tithing is paid on income already, and then paid again when the income becomes a gift, you're not paying 10%, you're paying 19%. (If I earned $10, and paid $1 in tithing, I have $9 to give. The person receiving the $9 gift then pays $0.90, leaving $8.10 of the original $10 income - a tax of 19%). If I then give my $8.10 to my sister because she needs it more than I do, then she pays $0.81, we're down to $7.29 of our original $10... and you can see where this is going.

I know that this isn't a big deal for most, but when I gave my daughter $5,000 to pay off some of her credit card debt, I didn't expect her to pay $500 in tithing -- the money was to go to pay off the debt. I had already paid on the $5,555.55 necesssary to gross $5,000.

I always like going in to my bishop with some very arcane way of accounting for some aspect of a stock option granted but lost value in year x therefore what should the tithing be... He smiles and repeats the text of the letter above.

Don't overanalyze this like I do. Pay 10% of something you feel good about justifying as your interest or income, and be done with it. It's self-declared, and no-one is justified in making any other statement.
Last edited by wayfarer on 30 Aug 2015, 10:28, edited 1 time in total.
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SilentDawning
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Jul 2012, 11:48

Not any more. And I'm OK with not paying it for the time being. My children pay and my wife wants to start again.
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rebeccad
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by rebeccad » 11 Jul 2012, 12:00

My husband is a CPA and a TBM so he handles all but the day to day expenses of the family. I honestly have no idea how much we pay in tithing or taxes. Since I have been a SAHM for 18 years I have made only incidental income which I paid 10% gross on, but the income was so small it didn't matter if it was gross or net.

I think if you attend church regularly, attend the temple, etc, that you should pay something in return for the services that the church is providing you.
I'm not that crazy about the insight it gives the bishopric into your finances if they use it as a way to ask for additional donations, as our bishop frequently does.
"The very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes, it's funny but it's true" -Fred Rogers

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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by wayfarer » 11 Jul 2012, 12:08

rebeccad wrote:I think if you attend church regularly, attend the temple, etc, that you should pay something in return for the services that the church is providing you.
This is a reasonable principle to keep in mind.
rebeccad wrote:I'm not that crazy about the insight it gives the bishopric into your finances if they use it as a way to ask for additional donations, as our bishop frequently does.
You do not have to pay the bishop. Tithing can also be paid directly to SLC, for those who wish to keep their finances private from the local ward.

I have not had the experience of a bishop asking for more donations.
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Jul 2012, 12:55

Yes - on net income (and tax returns that I receive as a result of not making much and having a large family).

If I never see the money, I don't consider it mine (and certainly not "increase" in any way) - so I don't pay tithing on it.
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cwald
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by cwald » 11 Jul 2012, 13:14

No.

However, if I ever do decide to get a TR again, I could easily answer Yes, using my understanding of what tithing is. I overpaid tithing my whole life - on GROSS, so I am not concerned about under paying on net increase from here on out. Also, I still try to "tithe" to my community, ie 4-H, FFA, youth groups, little league baseball, scouts, goodwill, strangers, big tips etc etc. And I do contribute some finances to the church to help maintain the building and pay bills etc etc. So if I needed a recommend, I would pay tithing on my "increase" after taxes and bills to maintain the family and household such as mortgage, utilities, student loans etc ---- I would absolutely say yes, and not apologize for it one bit.

I pay directly to SLC...and do not/will not attend tithing settlement, and do not/will not claim my tithing status...until the church becomes more transparent of where my tithing money is being spent. (if I needed/wanted, or even had a remote chance in hell of getting a TR - I wouldn't take this position.)

Also...for years, YEARS, the branch would send me a bill for 250 bucks for the Friends of Scouting. I paid it, but grumbled. Now that I am inactive and not a full tithe payer...I would be happy to help out the scouts. But, I am inactive and don't go to church or pay tithing regularly, so I guess the leadership felt it was best to not send the bill to me this Spring. I respect that, but it's just another example that many church leaders don't understand the issues.
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Minyan Man
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by Minyan Man » 11 Jul 2012, 13:17

I came up with a figure that I consider an honest tithe. I prayed about it & made my payment.
The way I figure it, if it's wrong or dishonest, God can tell me.
I'm not being sarcastic. I want to do the right thing & I think I have.
It is the "retrotithing" that felt guilty about.
The comments on this topic have settled it for me.
Thanks everyone.

Mike from Milton.

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wayfarer
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by wayfarer » 11 Jul 2012, 13:34

Mike wrote:I came up with a figure that I consider an honest tithe. I prayed about it & made my payment.
The way I figure it, if it's wrong or dishonest, God can tell me.
I'm not being sarcastic. I want to do the right thing & I think I have.
It is the "retrotithing" that felt guilty about.
The comments on this topic have settled it for me.
Mike, Your approach in the first three lines is exactly on. The right approach.
"no one is justified in making any other statement"

thanks.
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bc_pg
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by bc_pg » 11 Jul 2012, 13:45

I agree with the sentiment here that the church has defined tithing loosely enough that you are free to define what your increase is however you want and still be able to honestly state you have paid a full tithing.

Also of note is that you can pay your tithing to church headquarters if you don't want your local neighborhood bishop, ward clerk, etc. seeing what you pay.

I have also seen a bishop directly tell my children that they need to pay tithing on any money they receive as gifts - that didn't make me happy.

However, there is also a whole lot of pressure, indoctrination, etc. to make you feel like you "should" pay on gross.

I suppose techinically as a non-member I am paying full tithing by paying nothing ;)

One other comment - I wish that when I was in the process of "coming out" in my beliefs that I had held off on paying tithing until the end of the year.

rebeccad
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 10a: Tithing

Post by rebeccad » 11 Jul 2012, 14:01

Also of note is that you can pay your tithing to church headquarters if you don't want your local neighborhood bishop, ward clerk, etc. seeing what you pay.
Really? That is fantastic. Do you still have to do tithing settlement though?
How do you go about this?
"The very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes, it's funny but it's true" -Fred Rogers

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