Sunday, August 4, 2013

LDS Tithing Is Officially Defined As 10 Percent Of Income; Income And Increase Are Interchangeable

There is some confusion within a small part of the LDS community today about what should be the baseline for the computation of tithing for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are some, like Alan Rock Waterman of Pure Mormonism, who imply that it should only be 10 percent of "increase" rather than 10 percent of "income". They base their contention on verse 4 of Doctrine & Covenants Section 119, which states in part, "those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually".

However, the LDS leadership has long since resolved the issue; they ruled years ago that it is 10 percent of income. From Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve in April 1994:

In the Lord’s commandment to the people of this day, tithing is ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually’, which is understood to mean income. The First Presidency has said, “No one is justified in making any other statement than this” (First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970, quoted in the General Handbook of Instructions, 1989, p. 9-1; see also D&C 119).

In November 2006, Elder Daniel L. Johnston of the Seventy echoed this counsel:

President Howard W. Hunter stated it this way: “The law is simply stated as ‘one-tenth of all their interest.’ Interest means profit, compensation, increase. It is the wage of one employed, the profit from the operation of a business, the increase of one who grows or produces, or the income to a person from any other source".

This takes all the guesswork out of it. While the LDS leadership leaves open the question as to whether to calculate on the basis of gross income or net income, the defining standard is "income", and "income" is considered interchangeable with "increase". No other interpretation seems appropriate.

Part of the confusion results from the fact that in earlier times, tithing was paid in kind -- a tenth of the herdsman’s increase, a tenth of the farmer’s produce. However, neither the herdsman nor the farmer received an income from the flocks or the land until after it had produced. Likewise today, one does not receive income from a job until one actually gets paid. So one is only expected to tithe on income -- not upon assets.

For business owners, income is defined as what is received AFTER expenses are paid. If a bookstore owner receives $200,000 in gross income during a given year, and takes only $50,000 in personal income, tithing is calculated only upon the income. However, this can become a murky area, which is why the LDS leadership has decided not to rule on whether tithing should be based upon gross income or net income. The decision is left to the individual Church member. And this is wise, considering the complexities of modern financial compensation; while an employee's contribution to a 401k might be considered "income", what about the employer's contribution to the employee's 401k? What about the value of other employment perks, such as health insurance and gym memberships? It's best to leave these questions to the individual Church member rather than for the leadership to micromanage the membership. As the Prophet Joseph Smith once said, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves".

Most bishops will not ask if one is tithing on gross income or net income. So during the annual tithing settlement, or during a worthiness interview for any other purpose, if one is tithing on net income, one can truthfully claim to be paying a full tithing.


Anonymous said...

typing on phone so sorry for sloppyness.
i believe in paying tithing. we have paid on gross and never had anything left over. we make too much for any kind of assistance but not enough to meet our basic needs. i lost my job when king bush the second crashed the economy. some people say if it were not for bad luck they would not have any luck. we have no luck what so ever. we were wiped out financially 23 years ago sept. 29. we never had any family support. when we asked our bishop 23 years ago for help we were treated horribly and never ever asked for help since. we do not have enough to pay for medicine. we drive old run down cars. our teeth are rotted because dentists wont give you the time of day if one does not have insurance which we dont. we barely afford medical doctors. my husband has a masters degree. cost of living wages have not kept up with inflation and artificially inflated housing costs. meantime I feel God hates us because we have always never had enough. all oof our bishops have been snobby jerks. we have been faithful loyal and taken every calling. so we go without never been able to takes kids anywhere cant afford dentists and the church builds a 5 billioon dollar mall. boy are we blessed. i dont pay tithing to get blessings but pay because it is a biblical command and i love God. but it sure would be nice to get a break

Anonymous said...

The above statement is what is wrong with the church. I don't know if all bishops are this way, but I certainly hope not. Where is the Godly concern for the people?

I tithed on gross income and it set us in the hole. No, money didn't appear from heaven and we had to make up the difference.

Unlike many, I take 10 percent increase to mean if you have 10 percent of money in the bank at the end of the year, they that is What is tithed on. It would be a generous tithe to give 10 percent of what is left.

I read that the church leaders made a statement to tithe on what the person who gave the tithe thought was fair. I read this and it was at one time available, but since then I can't find it.

Would Christ want these poor people to do without healthcare? I don't think so! The bishop should look at his own self in this case and see if he is doing what Christ would do. The story above should have been answered with love and help from their bishop. I am ashamed this happened to a fellow LDS member, or anyone else.