Tithing Talk: Weekend Poll

By: wheatmeister
June 16, 2012

Which of the following would you pay tithing on? (choose all that apply)

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Discuss.

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28 Responses to Tithing Talk: Weekend Poll

  1. SteveS on June 16, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    Tithing on Gross minus taxes, then pay tithing on tax return monies.

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  2. NewlyHousewife on June 16, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Tithing on gross before taxes, enjoy tax return freely.

    Though I do have a question regarding using tithing for tax deductibles. My husband believes you have to make a certain amount of money before the 10% you spend in tithing is enough to write off as a charity contribution. I believe that part of the form was based on a percentage of your income so you can use it no matter how much you make.

    Which is it?

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  3. Adge on June 16, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    NewlyHousewife – There is a standard deduction the government allows everyone to write off and until you pay more than the standard deduction in tithing or other qualified deductions then it is worth it to just take the standard deduction.

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  4. Jon on June 16, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    SteveS,

    Isn’t that the net option?

    All,

    Interesting to see the gross amount so high, unless people are counting gross when they should be marking net like SteveS?

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  5. prometheus on June 16, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Honestly, as it stands right now, I just donate when and what I can to organizations that I think are important and which operate transparently (currently, that excludes the church).

    My philosophy is to simply give generously without regard for the percentage. Assigning a percentage, for me, places the focus on the amount given rather than on the giving itself, which seems to miss the point.

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  6. KT on June 16, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    #2: That is true. You do have to make a certain amount of money/have a certain amount of assets before you can use a write off for charitable contributions.
    We, having been poor students for a number of years now and have not at all been able to “write off” tithing donations.

    I am really surprised at the number of people that say gross. I agree with #4… SteveS – is that not gross, or are you accounting for something else?

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  7. Bob on June 16, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    10% of surplus :)

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  8. I Dwell In A Tent on June 16, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    I’m not sure what you mean by gross versus net income. A W-2 salaried type income or salary I would pay on the total amount earned, not the “after taxes and other deductions amount.” Why? Because taxes are simply costs of services. If we privatized everything, you would essentially pay separate bills for military defense, street lights, highways, national parks, etc. Those are personal expenses, just like cable and the cell phone bill. I know most of us don’t enjoy paying taxes. We all wish we could pick and choose those personal services so we could pay less taxes. Nonetheless, taxes do pay for needed services. On the other hand, I am a small business owner. I pay tithing on the money I take home after expenses of running the business, so that is “net income.” I give this example to people. Suppose I buy widgets at a $1.00 each, and because of the market, can only sell them at $1.10 each. I sell 100 of them. Therefore, I receive $110. If I paid tithing on the “gross income”, I would pay $11. By paying $11, I end up with $99, and that isn’t even enough to cover the cost of the widgets. What I should do is first subtract the cost of the widgets ($100), leaving me $10 net profit. Then, I pay tithing on the net profit, or $1.00. As for all the other things, I don’t gamble, and don’t really consider the other things to be “income.” Even the yard sale to me is not “income” because you’re taking (in most cases) a depreciating asset and just converting into another form of asset — The old couch is changed to $50. That’s not an increase or an income, it’s just a change in form. I guess if I were to actually be able to sell something for much more than it’s fair market value, then I would consider that to be income. Haven’t ever had that happen at my garage sales.

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  9. Emily on June 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Haha this feels like a trick question! Since we shouldn’t be gambling, why would we be paying tithing on winnings? I dated a guy who gambled to earn money for his mission. Huh?

    The whole gross versus net makes me scratch my head. You still earned the money, so why wouldn’t you pay tithing on it? Some places don’t take taxes out first, so maybe it would be more apparent to pay tithing on it if it wasn’t already pulled out. Just because it doesn’t go into your account doesn’t mean it was never yours.

    Of course if you are running your own business and have your profits and losses, you have to factor that in and look at your total increase there. My bro made the mistake of paying tithing on everything he brought in forgetting that some of it was business expenses and he ended up in the hole when he shouldn’t have.

    I wouldn’t pay tithing on a rollover, but would on something I’d cashed out to use as income. When I do cash it out in retirement, then I’ll pay the tithing on it. I guess it’s the same for the other things, if I use it as income/replacement of/supplement to income (gift card) I do pay tithing. However, I haven’t paid income on gift items, but have heard of people doing so.

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  10. Douglas on June 16, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    General rule is “taxable equals tithe-able”. For this reason, I pay on gross, less FICA, Medicare, mandatory retirement deduction, and voluntary (457) contributions. That way, no dispute about equity versus gains; nothing gets tithed twice regardless of income tax liability. Other deductions are tithed since they effectively constitute a service (though the effectiveness and worth of the “service” is debateable, it’s a political matter-
    ) or it’s discretionary.
    As for sales of property, real or personal, three criteria come to mind: (1) part of an ongoing business (ex: I buy and sell used Mopar parts and the occasional vehicle as a sideline), in that case calculate net profit and tithe accordingly; (2) Sale that results in a capital gain – if purely an investment, yes, tithe, if taking the lifetime homeowner exemption and trading down, no, and (3) casual sale of personal property – this would constitute an exchange without net profit, so, no

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  11. Stephen Marsh on June 17, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    Thanks for this poll.

    I remember someone who said they paid tithing on their gross. Well, not the true gross (they skipped the part of the SS tax that they don’t see — what gets referred to as self employment tax if you don’t have an employer).

    Also they had housing paid for by their employer. And pension benefits. And medical.

    Pretty soon …

    Part of the problem is that a rancher has a defined “increase.” Take the size of the herd at base line. Measure how much the herd has grown 12 months later.

    The animals eaten through the year, etc. are outside of that. Guess part of cost of goods sold or something.

    Or a crop harvest, that seems simple. Then you add in tithing on your herb garden (the entire Pharisee tithes on mint, etc. discussion).

    The truth is that most people are not in an economic place where they know their true “gross” or can afford to pay on the true gross (e.g. a businessman paying on gross before the cost of rent for the business, goods, etc. is deducted — or a wage earner calculating back in social security and other taxes as well as the cost of capital goods used in his or her job).

    Some professionals can. I’ve know some sole proprietors running small law offices that did.

    So everyone is pretty much at some definition of net.

    Which one is another point.

    Well, I’ve been overwhelmed timewise, missed my Friday posting time and am backlogged on e-mails, but I did want to make sure to support this thread.

    Now I can go back to sleep.

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  12. hawkgrrrl on June 17, 2012 at 5:35 AM

    It’s interesting because it seems pretty straightforward when you are in Primary. I can see why they say it’s up to you to define because everyone is in such a different position in terms of what type of income they take in.

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  13. Mike S on June 17, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Where the argument against gross falls short:

    For many people in the United States, the effective income tax rate is 0%, so there is less difference between gross and net. But as income rises, this difference becomes more apparent. People making more money don’t “use” more police services, don’t have more “defense”, don’t have more children in school, don’t have more fires, etc. Their use of services doesn’t increase – they are just paying for them for other people. Therefore, 10% of gross equals quite a bit more of their actual net. Granted, it is likely easier for them to pay the 10%, as their base expenses are less, but saying that tithing should be paid on “taxes” because they are services that “you” get is a bit misleading.

    Also, we are a global church. In many countries in Europe, the effective tax rate is 50-60%. Paying on 10% of gross income in these countries is much more of a burden in the United States.

    Perhaps this is why the Church very wisely doesn’t answer this question. It’s between us and God. If we feel we have paid a “full” tithe, then we have. Plain and simple.

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  14. KT on June 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    If only it really were “between us and God”. That is definitely how it should be. However, when I told my Bishop at this past tithing settlement meeting that I just wanted to donate anonymously and not actually have it tracked because it’s not up to the Church to monitor, but is in fact between us (me and my husband) and God and therefore the Church shouldn’t care about what exact amount we in particular donate, that was a no go. In fact, we had already begun donating anonymously the last few months and it caused quite a tizzy….

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  15. Sherry on June 17, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    KT, I like what you do but I can imagine the tizzie it created. The church likes to keep track of things ie; reports, statistics, etc. Tithing is critical for temple worthiness, which is why I pay mine. I’ve been a decades long tithe payer but am presently reconsidering. I am deeply unhappy with the church’s use of $$$ to invest in the new mall in SLC. And I am negative about the lack of transparency, even tho I understand the legal ramifications, etc. I currently pay tithing on my net pension; not on child support. I am a writer so I pay tithing in my book income, after expenses, which is very minimal. I do this to keep a reccommend as my daughter is fifteen and I want to be able to attend the temple with her for youth excursions, etc. Personally I have great difficulty with the temple because of the lack of powerful female role models and the way Eve is portrayed. Yet I feel that a TR is easier to keep than it is to loose and recover, thus the main reason I pay my tithing.

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  16. Mike S on June 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    KT:

    You can pay directly to Church HQ. Your local leader (bishop or branch president) will merely get a notice that you paid “something” to them. There is no indication as to the amount.

    If you feel that you have donated an appropriate amount between you and God, you can declare “full” tithing status at tithing settlement. If the bishop presses you any more than this, as to knowing the exact amount, he is exercising unrighteous dominion.

    While this isn’t strictly anonymous, because the amount you donate will still be recorded by the church, it accomplishes the same thing on a local level. In fact, if you expect to claim any donation to the Church (or any other organization) on your tax return, it CANNOT be anonymous. If you don’t care about tax implications and truly want to be anonymous, give a single dollar directly to SLC under your name. You can send the rest in anonymously if you prefer.

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  17. JM on June 18, 2012 at 5:39 AM

    I had a wise bishop many years ago who was a tax law professor. He told us never to ask him what we should pay tithing on.

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  18. Michael on June 18, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    This discussion on gross vs. net is very US-centric. In many countries taxes can be as high as 50% to 60% of your gross pay and do not always represent the “cost of services” which bring an individual value. Many times the taxes represent wealth transfers or interest on government debt.

    If you only had your take home pay represent 40% of your total earnings and you took a full 10% of gross as your tithing responsibility I don’t think it would meet the scriptural test of “annual increase”. And it would definitely create a challenge in managing a household budget.

    I would have thought the W&T community would not have been as myopic as to only think in terms of the US wage earner situation.

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  19. Mike S on June 18, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    #18: Michael: I would have thought the W&T community would not have been as myopic as to only think in terms of the US wage earner situation.

    I agree as per comment #13 above

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  20. Michael on June 18, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Sorry Mike S. I didn’t realize how much you had covered the same observation in your #13 comment. My fault.

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  21. Justin on June 18, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Discuss.
    In the business sense — “income” is revenue minus expenditures.

    Paying one’s tithing on gross or net income fails to take into account the expenditures of room, board, or State-levied taxes [in the case of gross income].

    We’ve always paid our tithing by accounting the total in-come [revenue coming in-to our home: my paycheck, any monetary gifts -- an inheritance or yard-sale, etc.] — then we minus the total expenditure of maintaining our family.

    That amount is multiplied by 0.10. We then put that amount of cash in a tithing envelope [we don't fill out the form] and give it to a member of the bishopric.

    The only weakness that I haven’t worked-out yet — is I don’t calculate “in kind” income. Meaning I’ll account for monetary gifts, but I don’t try to calculate the value of a physical gift and put that dollar amount in our total income.

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  22. Justin on June 18, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    KT #14:

    If only it really were “between us and God”. That is definitely how it should be. However, when I told my Bishop at this past tithing settlement meeting that I just wanted to donate anonymously and not actually have it tracked because it’s not up to the Church to monitor, but is in fact between us (me and my husband) and God and therefore the Church shouldn’t care about what exact amount we in particular donate, that was a no go. In fact, we had already begun donating anonymously the last few months and it caused quite a tizzy….

    We’ve paid anonymously for the last two years now. We just mail the bishop a letter at the end of the year declaring ourselves as full-tithe payers — and we haven’t encountered a tizzy.

    It’s funny when I hear, “The church is the same everywhere you go…” — when really, one’s experience can vary greatly from ward-to-ward, state-to-state, and country-to-country — depending on the local members and leadership.

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  23. remlap on June 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    If you donated 10% of your gross income to charities but only part of that went to the church, would you still be a full tithe payer?

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  24. Douglas on June 18, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Remlap – technically, NO, but the answer would seem self-serving: A Tithe is given to the Lord THROUGH His duly appointed servants. You MAY contribute more to whatever just cause you deem worthwhile, in fact; you are encouraged to do so AFTER tithes are paid.
    Other things, like fast offerings, should be according to your means. We need to be reasonable. I knew of a young couple with a new baby whose bishop wouldn’t renew their recommends because even though they paid their tithing, their fast offerings seemed meager and they didn’t contribute to the Ward budget. These kids were the proverbial “starving students”. The distraught young sister told her father who was in the Stake Presidency and he saw to it they got their recommends.

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  25. Bonnie on June 18, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    #17 Very wise. Tithing isn’t about money. It’s always between us and God and all we need do is make the claim in tithing settlement that fits our beliefs. It’s our choice to declare. Tithing is only the first step on a scale of consecration, and it involves a responsible relationship with God – i.e. we assume a shared responsibility for the kingdom. What would be wrong with asking the question of ourselves, occasionally, “Should this be 10% or a bit more? Is there a special need in another area that deserves my attention?” Hopefully we move toward being anxiously engaged in good causes and doing many things of our own free will and choice and beyond worrying about jots and tittles. Just my $.02 (waka waka).

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  26. SteveS on June 19, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Jon (#4): I don’t think that’s the net option. Tithing on gross minus taxes still leaves me paying tithing on the money being taken out of my net paycheck for health and life insurances, and for retirement 401k. If I’m still paying tithing in my retirement, I’ll pay on the social security check I receive (which technically I’m paying for right now, but haven’t “earned” yet).

    Anyway, remlap’s question in #23 is a good one, and one that perhaps gets at the spirit of tithing more than letter. What’s tithing for, primarily? is it for the Church? is it for God? is it for the tithing payer?

    In the case of the CoJCoLDS, there were definitely times in the Church’s past where money was tight, and they risked losing everything due to lack of funds. Tithing saved the day. But now? with possibly tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in assets, investments, and accounts (no one knows, because the Church is as transparent as a brick wall), the Church certainly doesn’t need 10% of every active member’s income to stay solvent. Sure, it needs cash flow to keep the lights on in the chapels and the manuals published, but it doesn’t even pay its local clergy members, an expense that in any other religious organization would be its highest expense. Tithing inflow likely greatly exceeds operations expenditure in the Church. The Church doesn’t need to keep all that money when so much good could come from spending it.

    So does God or Jesus need your tithing? Is God displeased when we do not pay money so the temples can be gilt and the MoTab choir can have new costumes? Is His worship only done correctly or made more perfect by cash donations? In ancient times, offerings of money and goods to a god was a way of appeasing that god in hopes of assuaging wrath or importuning blessings. In large part, I think most people have moved away from God as the capricious, self-centered deity who craves praise and attention. But the prosperity-gospel God is still alive and well in contemporary religious culture, in industrialized nations as well as developing ones. But did God command a tithe so His name could be praised, or as a precondition of blessings given? Probably neither, imo.

    So if the Church no longer needs 10% tithing to maintain operations and accommodate growth, and if God really doesn’t need your money in order to be praised or mollified, tithing must have a spiritual benefit to the tithing payer as its primary purpose. Indeed, the main focus of most tithing sermons in GC seems to be how tithing blesses the tithing payer’s life, most often in situations where money is tight, and somehow there’s always “just enough”. Although this borders on a prosperity gospel orientation (because somehow God makes sure that those that obey this commandment to tithe will never lack, including rich people who need to pay the bill on the boat and the vacation home), it’s slightly different in that God doesn’t guarantee prosperity upon prosperity, only just enough to not have negative financial consequences. And in some cases I’m sure, God’s tithing protection comes even as individuals make unwise, impractical, or “sinful” choices with their money (ex.: the woman that pays tithing, buys a(nother) pair of expensive shoes, and miracle of miracles, has just enough to pay the rest of the bills that month!)

    The real blessing of tithing is the way it helps the tithing payer become less attached to material possessions, and more engaged in the work of helping others around him or her. Sounds good, right? just set and forget. Pay that tithing to the Church and let the Church decide how to help the poor with all that money, right?

    And here remlap’s question really becomes interesting. Is the spirit of tithing to simply give, or is it to give conscientiously, mindfully, without expectation of reward or status in our communities? I submit that 1) given that the Church really doesn’t need a full 10% from its members to survive and thrive, and 2) given that God could really care less about whether you give money to “Him” or not, and 3) assuming the personal benefit you seek from paying tithing goes beyond having material blessings or financial protection be bestowed upon you, then why not choose to pay at least 10% of your income to charitable causes (enough to make the contributions impact your ability to purchase more goods and services), but to make the choice of where to give your money an act of devotion to God to spend where you feel inspired to give where it is needed the most? Why would I give my money to the rich guy so he can give it to the poor and needy for me when I can do so myself? Isn’t the greatest spiritual satisfaction of charitable giving the choice of which charity you decide is important enough to give to? That charity may be the Church, and indeed, the Church needs an inflow of cash to continue operations, but perhaps the spirit of tithing is giving until it hurts, and giving as an expression of your commitment to doing God’s work in partnership with God through the inspiration of His Spirit to know where that money can best be given to benefit our communities and alleviate suffereing everywhere. I could see a scenario where a member pays 5% to the Church (or 4% or 3% or whatever), and another 5% to the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, NPR, the local food bank, the Humane Society, or a host of other worthy causes that benefit society and bless the lives of others. I could see a wealthy member of the Church give 10% to the Church, and another 10% to charitable organizations because the 20% cut in her pay is finally where she can feel its financial impact enough to make her have to forego buying whatever she wants whenever she wants it. I can see a poor member of the Church give 2% to the church as a full tithe because any more would cause his family to lose their home. The point is that a full tithe is something between a person and God as an act of private devotion (cf. the Sermon on the Mount); for some much more will be required than for others, and tithing as a benchmark required for full participation in the life of the relgious community is pernicious and counter to the spirit of charitable giving at the core of the doctrine of tithing.

    Sorry for the long comment. Hopefully someone will read it!

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  27. remlap on June 19, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Steve S,

    Great comments. If tithing is more about the person giving the tithe now that the church is solvent and no longer has any financial issues wouldn’t make more sense for the person to be able give where they (through study and prayer) think their money would do best? I really like the concept of micro-loans and like knowing who the money is going to and why they need it. I feel that I am really helping a specific person and that my money is not going into the coffers of a large institution that will use the money as they see fit (see new tithing slips). I really have a hard time believing that God would tell someone “Well I see you were very generous with your money and time, but you did not give it to one of my approved organizations so I am not going to bless you or count you as one of mine”

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  28. ajax on December 8, 2012 at 9:34 PM

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