August 2nd, 2007

Tithing

I sent the following questions to a few friends and family, and would like to get any of my readers’ responses as well to get additional perspective on the issue and see what others understand regarding the payment of tithing. Any comments would be appreciated!

1. The definition of tithing is such that we are to pay one-tenth of our increase. Please define “increase”.

2. If I receive a monetary gift, am I to pay tithing on that gift?

3. If I receive a gift in kind (i.e. a material object such as a CD or toaster), am I to pay tithing on the value of that gift?

33 Responses to “Tithing”

  1. Brandon
    August 2, 2007 at 9:38 pm #

    I personal don’t like to get technical with things like this. I think each situation is unique. As far as gifts, I don’t pay tithing on small physical gifts. However, if it was some large type of barter or exchange with someone else that would be equal to income, I would give tithing, I think. This may not be how others define it, but I define my increase as everything that goes into my bank account. I don’t have a bunch of fancy investments or anything like that, so my bank account is my measuring stick. I think the most important thing is that you decide for yourself what is right and then be consistent with that. In tithing settlement they just ask you if you are a full tithe payer, they don’t ask you to define what that means.

  2. Tytus
    August 2, 2007 at 9:47 pm #

    Well, I think the answer you’ll get is a “it’s a personal decision between you and the Lord.” I think that is true, and thus the wording is intentionally ambiguous. However, I also appreciate how unsatisfying that response is, and the natural tendency is to assume that the more you pay tithing on, the more righteous you are.

    As far as how I have decided to pay tithing, I pay 10% of gross monetary income received for work I have performed.

    I do not pay tithing on gifts, monetary or otherwise (which would include scholarships / grants).

    I have found some gray area in money received from goods I have sold which were originally bought with tithed income (buy a textbook for $50, sell it back for $50). I think it could go either way on that one.

    When I stay at my parents house, I do not pay tithing on the value of my room per night I stay in, and if I go eat at a friends house, I don’t pay 10% of the value of the food I consume.

    But, if one were to cash out 10% of the value of every asset, service, or good that ever comes their way, they are certainly entitled do that, but I do not believe the Lord has that in mind when he replaced the law of consecration with the law of tithing.

  3. Parker Boyack
    August 2, 2007 at 10:51 pm #

    1. Income. If you WORK and make 20 bucks, pay 2.

    2. No, it’s a gift. You didn’t have to work for it.

    3. Stupid question, NO.

  4. Connor
    August 2, 2007 at 11:04 pm #

    An interesting revelation from Lightplanet:

    By revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord stated that members should pay “one-tenth of all their interest [increase] annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever.” (D&C 119:4) Present Church policy specifically states that no one in the Church has any authority to interpret this revelation for another person (See Financial Clerk’s Handbook). This prohibition applies to everyone, including Stake Presidents and Bishops. If a local Church leader instructs you how to calculate your tithing, then he is in violation of this policy. It is up to the agency of each individual person to determine what constitute’s a fair interpretation of the revelation.

  5. Andrea
    August 2, 2007 at 11:09 pm #

    I agree with Parker. Well stated, old chap. Not that the questions are stupid by any means, but I think it’s personal with you and the Lord. I think the Lord knows us and the desires of our hearts more than we can begin to comprehend. We pay tithing to prove our faithfulness to the Lord, and I don’t think we should get caught up in the little details. If we pay because we love the Lord and have a desire to show our faith by paying our tithing, he will accept our offering and we will have ‘the windows of heaven’ opened to us. I don’t think he’ll hold back blessings because we didn’t pay $1 of the $10 grandma gave us for our birthday.

  6. Connor
    August 2, 2007 at 11:19 pm #

    President Faust has said this:

    The law of tithing is simple: we pay one-tenth of our individual increase annually. Increase has been interpreted by the First Presidency to mean income. What amounts to 10 percent of our individual income is between each of us and our Maker. There are no legalistic rules. (via Quoty)

  7. RP
    August 2, 2007 at 11:28 pm #

    On the tithing note . . . my favorite comment on tithing ever was this by Jeffrey R. Holland “I can’t list all the ways that blessings will come from obedience to this principle, but I testify many will come in spiritual ways that go well beyond economics. In my life, for example, I have seen God’s promise fulfilled that He would “rebuke the devourer for [my sake].”6 That blessing of protection against evil has been poured out upon me and on my loved ones beyond any capacity I have to adequately acknowledge. But I believe that divine safety has come, at least in part, because of our determination, individually and as a family, to pay tithing.”

    It seems most tithing talks/testimonies focus on the part where the Lord promises that he will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing,”

    The part Holland talks about seems to often be left out of the discussion and it is the promise he gives in Malachi 3:11 “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes.”

    The talk he gave it in is called “Like a Watered Garden”

    http://216.49.176.33/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-225-13,00.html

    (okay, end of preaching)

  8. Michelle
    August 2, 2007 at 11:46 pm #

    I agree with those who say that it’s a personal decision between the person and the Lord.

    I loved that talk by Elder Holland. I also had a friend point out that “windows of heaven” could be equated with the veil as well, and that can tie into the spiritual blessings, insight and power that come as we attend the temple. Since we can only attend the temple if we pay a full tithe, I thought this was beautiful.

    It’s similar to the blessings tied to the WoW — “hidden treasures of knowledge” that can be ours through temple attendance and being worthy to have the Spirit with us.

  9. James
    August 2, 2007 at 11:57 pm #

    My advice:

    1. Obey God.
    2. Be generous.
    3. If you feel bad, satisfy your conscience.

    -James

  10. Scott
    August 3, 2007 at 8:53 am #

    There are some great comments here. It is the basic nature of some people (including me) to want to have everything nailed down in black and white. The Pharisees loved that kind of thing in Jesus’ time. But this approach kills the Spirit and eliminates the need to work out matters of this nature personally by developing a close relationship with the Lord. Thus, James’ brief and simple commentary above is wonderful and is applicable to everyone regardless of their situation.

    My situation makes it relatively easy to determine actual income. I have a spreadsheet that figures everything out. It calculates income, multiplies that by 10%, and then adds on a certain amount, because I don’t ever want to shortchange the Lord. That is how my wife and I do it. Nobody else is required to think this is the right method for them.

  11. Jake Spurlock
    August 3, 2007 at 9:32 am #

    1. Simply, I would define “increase” as expansion to personal assets.
    2. I think that this is a really fuzzy area. I think that one person really needs to be led by the spirit in making tithing. I know that when my wife and I got married, we got a lot of money, and where as poor as dirt, and we felt really compelled. I think that being generous to the church in other ways, maybe fast offerings, would be a good way to stay generous mood, and still have the blessings from donation.
    3. I don’t think this is necessary, once again, trying to stay generous is what is important.

    I would pose another question… Let’s say I just am about to make a settlement from a personal injury accident. Setting aside lawyer fees, and medical costs, would I pay tithing on that? Any ideas?

  12. Naiah
    August 3, 2007 at 9:40 am #

    Simple: If, upon receiving something, be it money or goods or services or any such ‘commodity,’ in your heart of hearts you feel that you should tithe it, then do.

  13. Obi wan liberali
    August 3, 2007 at 10:35 am #

    My calculation was to take my net worth at the end of the year and subtract my net worth from the beginning of the year. If the number is positive, I’d pay the church 10% of that amount. If the number is negative, I sent a bill to the church. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for the checks to start rolling in.

  14. Chris
    August 3, 2007 at 3:52 pm #

    Connor asked me to post this exchange we had last night over email. Here it goes:

    Chris says:

    I have had the same questions. Here are my thoughts:

    1. Increase isn’t meant to be defined. Its ambiguous on purpose. What does the spirit tell you?
    2. You don’t pay tithing on gifts. So keep your wedding money – the lord wants you to have it :)
    3. See 2.

    On a similar note, I don’t think tithing is a issue for a guy like you. You’re going to pay what the law and the spirit tell you to pay. Its what you pay in fast offering that’s the real test.

    Connor replies:

    Thanks for your reply… you state “You don’t pay tithing on gifts.” That sounds a bit “final”, I’m wondering if you know of a GA quote/scripture or something that states this, or is this just “accepted practice”. In discussing this recently with others, I’m just trying to figure out what is right, rather than what is common practice. When it says “increase”, I take that to mean anything you’ve gained in addition to what you already have. For example, I sold some DVDs tonight that I had previously purchased. I sold them at a loss, so the money I received in exchange was not an increase, therefore I won’t pay the tithing on it. However, if I made more money on them than I had previously paid, I would pay tithing on that increase… thoughts?

    Chris responds:

    Maybe I shouldn’t be so final. Like I said its up to you. “Increase” is not defined on purpose – its one of those things you have to work out with the Lord. I know – I struggle with that on tithing too since the punishments for not paying an honest tithe are outlined clearly in the scriptures. So its a hard thing. Like also said, I really believe the test isn’t so much in tithing as it is in the faith involved in paying an “honest” fast offering. I really believe this is the real meat of the money issue – not tithing – because most of the faithful pay tithing. Where does fast offering money go? To the sick, poor, needy, etc. right in you ward boundary – your neighbor! Think about that. So the Lord wants to know what you’re really going to give where the “rubber hits the road” so to speak. Think Jacob 2 on that one. I’m finally getting that principle at 33. I tell you – I don’t just throw $20 in the blue envelope anymore. Its become a much deeper thing to me.

    Good exchange…

  15. Lee
    August 3, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    I came into this world with nothing. Anything I receive is an “increase” over “zero.” I have not tried to nit pick on every card, sweater, or knick-knack i’ve been gifted, but cash–income or gift–has been duly tithed.

  16. Michelle
    August 4, 2007 at 12:33 am #

    “When it says “increase”, I take that to mean anything you’ve gained in addition to what you already have. ”

    That’s the way I see it. Since we don’t really have a system for tithing in kind, I translate that to mean a monetary increase, something from which I can take 10% and give it to the Lord.

  17. Jason
    August 4, 2007 at 10:42 am #

    I had to chuckle when I read this because I have a suspicion of what inspired/initiated the thought — because my wife and I had the same discussion when we were engaged.

    I had always paid tithing on my take home pay, that is the amount that gets put into the bank (this was in days way before I ever had voluntary paycheck adjustments like 401k or insurance coverage, didn’t get a job like that until I was nearly done with school). My wife on the other hand had always paid tithing on her gross pay (ie: pre-tax amount). So we discussed the issue to decide how we what amount we were going to pay tithing on once married.

    The following is only my experience, and in no way should be construed to be taken for specific advice or implied church position:

    I felt a little slighted by the concept of paying tithing on pre-tax earnings as I felt that since I never saw that money it wasn’t truly my increase. If anything it is the government’s increase and they should be responsible for paying tithing on it. However my wife argued various reasons why this is not the case. In the end, we decided to pay tithing on our gross pay (which occasionally still makes my cringe when I see how much difference there would be in the tithing check if we only paid tithing on post-tax earnings) as we felt that we didn’t want to try split hairs in this issue. One upside is if we ever get a tax refund at tax time, I have a clear conscience in doing whatever is needed with that money as it has already been tithed!

    Once last comment, I’ll agree that things are simpler when you just get a paycheck from time to time. There are many more things to consider when you are dealing with investments and the like. But since I haven’t had to deal with those things too much, I have no specific comments on the issue.

  18. RoAnn
    August 4, 2007 at 12:29 pm #

    There are many more things to consider when you are dealing with investments and the like. (#17)

    Absolutely. Selling stocks at a loss, etc. One fairly simple way of dealing with various sources of income and loss is to use your federal income tax form figures a reference. That will give you your total income from all sources, less any losses you may have incurred.

    You can estimate those if you aren’t tracking them in a spreadsheet or with a computer program, pay what you think you owe in December, and pay any shortfall the following March if you later find you have underestimated. We overpay our December estimate, and have rarely needed to pay more once the final figures were in.

    Many members with complicated finances actually pay part or all of their tithing directly to the Presiding Bishopric’s Office in appreciated stock, thus avoiding the capital gains taxes. The Church immediately sells the stock, and credits the donor with whatever amount it sold for.

  19. tithe
    August 9, 2007 at 4:23 pm #

    I would think that a tithe of one’s increase is what you’ve gained, minus the resources you’ve invested. For instance, a farmer doesn’t tithe on his corn of that year, including the seed he put down to grow it.

  20. Joe
    January 14, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

    Someone asked about paying tithing on a lawsuit settlement from a car wreck. Good question. For INCOME tax purposes, you would ONLY pay taxes on that portion of the settlement that was for lost wages. Monies received for mental anguish, pain suffering, loss of use of limb or propety, etc are not taxed. I personally, would tithe in the same manner. The part that was for lost income or lost future earning capacity gets tithed. the rest is NOT increase. Thats just me though. Realistically, after your lawyer gets his cut–you wont have much left anyhow and may not really have any increase.

  21. nkechi
    July 9, 2008 at 11:40 pm #

    if you’re going on holiday and your spouse gives you spending money to shop for the children and himself, do you tithe on that.

  22. Olivia
    July 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    I don’t believe so because you are not keeping the money. Your spouse probably already paid tithing on it and instead of him/her buying the gifts, they are just giving it to you to do the deed.

  23. Tom
    November 11, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    1) Based on my experience, this is how I would define “tithe”: a 10% of what one has earned from working. For example, if one works flipping burgers at McDonald’s, teaching at a school, or doing some paper work at an office, he/she would have to tithe what he/she received from that work. Tithes are usually given to one’s local church to pay their property bill; water, electricity, and gas bill; pay their Pastor; or any other payments the church has to make, which are many. (I’m a treasurer in my church).

    2 & 3) According to my definition of “tithe” above, anything one receives for free does not have to be tithed. Receiving something for free means you had no obligation to work to obtain what you received freely. But, let’s say one receives a car for a work he/she has done. In this case, he/she should tithe like in the old days where there wasn’t really a monetary system like the one we have today. So, it would be fair for that person to estimate the value of the car and tithe; besides, that’s what they used to do in the old days.

  24. Brian
    February 16, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    What about the case where you’ve been tithing but also been putting money aside in a pension pot… Do you then tithe on the income you get from your pension (which you have already tithed on)? Because, by many of the standards here, you tithe on that which you work for, but receiving your pension is not ‘working’.

  25. Tom
    February 17, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    Brian,

    I think the case you mention has to do with whether one tithes from his/her gross income* or tithes from his/her net income**. I believe one should tithe from their gross income and not from their net income because the gross income is what one in reality makes. By tithing from the gross income, this includes tithing for the money one receives from pension, if he/she has any.

    * a person’s income before subtracting costs and expenses
    ** a person’s income after subtracting costs and expenses

    I hope I answered your question.

  26. Justin
    February 17, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    You tithe your income and “income” means that which “comes in”. Gross, by definition doesn’t “come in” because it’s taken before you get your check. Why are you insistent on making the law of tithing a law of sacrifice? If you choose to pay more than 10% of your surplus, then that is a personal choice, but don’t teach that others need to adhere to your “commandments/traditions of men”. The United Order required the Saints to give 100% of surplus to the Bishop — the Law of Tithing, given in consequence of the Saints failure to adhere to the former, requires that the Saints give 10% of surplus to the Bishop.
    Read D&C 119 again and tell me where your doctrine of gross income comes from.

  27. LINDA
    April 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    We know that tithing (which was never money) was under the Law, and because of the Cross, we are not under the bondage of the Law, and can not single out one practice and make it a rule today.

    Some say that, because Abraham gave ten percent of his spoil to Melchizedek, we are obligated to pay ten percent of our salary, income, etc to the local church or somewhere, although I could not find one place from Genesis to Revelations where workers (merchants, carvers of timber, cutters of stone, craftsmen, fishermen, tent makers, smiths, etc.) were told, asked or even volunteered to give ten percent of their money earned to anyone: or where anyone else made a practice of giving ten percent of their spoil to a High Priest.

    Tithing is a very good way to finance the church. If your church demands you to give ten percent of your income, are they willing to take care of the poor, the fatherless children and widows indeed? Are do they also want ten percent of their assistance from the government, social security, etc.?

    I have given tithes for over forty years, but I do know that the Bible does not obligate me to pay tithes to anyone, and that Jesus became a curse for us, therefore people who do not pay tithes are not under a curse. You volunteer to give tithes, you don’t pay it.

    It is a lack of faith to demand people to pay something because you do not feel that you will get as much money from them if you do not put them under bondage.

    Will someone have to give an account to our Lord for leading His sheep into the confusion that I see among the saints of God?

  28. Anna
    August 1, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    I believe 10% is what the lord tell us but he is unspecific because that is where we need to apply a portion of our faith; in prayer. I think we should seriously contemplate what we are or may not pay tithing on. The fact of the matter will remain when you go before your maker and your savior, will you know that they know that you are indeed that “good and faithful servant”.

    Do we give freely of our selves or find loop holes to suite our subtle greed? Our savior is our judge, and the scriptures say that he who is a full tithe payer will not be burned at the last day. However literal this maybe will be unveiled the day our lord comes again.

    Everyones answer may be different for the lord knows are hearts better than we do. We as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints pay our tithing as a trial of faith, and to raise up those who are maybe even less fortunate than ourselves. For charity is the true love of Christ and we cannot enter the Kingdom of our father without it.

  29. Jeb
    October 19, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Iam conflicted. If I were to pay tithing right now, I would pay around $10,000 per month. My car cost me $1,600. I have a lot of things to pay due to previously long unemployment preriod. In the end of the month I have nothing left. My kids don’t wear fancy clothes and we don’t have fancy things at home. We are fairly low middle-class.
    I haven’t payid tithing in a while and I have a hard time thinking about doing it so. I can see myself giving 2k to the Church but not 10k. With no retirement left, I don’t see the reason why. If I pay instead of saving some, I won’t be self-sufficient but depended on someone.
    If I pay tithing and the blessings don’t come, then what? I am being honest here. Not all blessings do come.

  30. rachel
    October 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    That must be a typo. You would be paying $10,000 a month?!?! You mean your income is $100,000 a month?!?! If you make $1.2 million a year and you can’t “afford” to pay your tithing, then you have a serious money management problem. Maybe you mean $10,000 a year? Even at $100,000 a year, you make almost twice what we make for our family of nine.

    Okay, now that I got over the shock of that—-

    You obviously don’t have sufficient faith in this principle. But as Alma says, if you can no more than have a desire to believe, let that desire work in you and plant the seed. Go ahead and pray and tell the Lord you are going to put it to the test. Ask him to help you recognize the blessings, because THEY DO COME. You probably just don’t recognize them. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say….” He will keep his promise to open the windows of heaven and bless you that you won’t have room enough to receive it.

    1. As for increase, we usually consider it our income from work, inheritance money, and money made from selling things at a profit. We pay on our gross income so that when we get our tax return, we don’t have to tithe it. If we get a tax return of more than we actually paid in taxes, I rant about how immoral it is that they took the money from someone else and are giving it to us,

    and then we pay tithing on what we got up and above what we actually had withheld.

    2. As for monetary gifts, we pay on inheritance, but everyone is left to his own discretion as whether to pay on more casual gifts. We have a generous grandma who gives everyone $25 on his or her birthday and Christmas. Sometimes the kids pay on their birthday money, and sometimes they don’t. It is up to them. Here’s how I look at it—you won’t be condemned in my opinion for not doing it, but if you do pay tithing on monetary gifts, you will be blessed.

    3. I wouldn’t attempt to pay tithing on physical gifts. I mean birthday or Christmas gifts. However, if I feel we have been very blessed by having someone give us something material, I would probably raise my fast offering for that month. I think that acknowledges God’s hand in all blessings.

    Once we had just gotten paid, and things were tight as always. We saw that some people, who we only knew casually, had their house burn, and they needed help. We went by to see how they were, and I asked my husband if we could give them some money. He had some cash for his travel expenses for the following week, and the smallest bill he had was a $50 bill. I asked him again and told him I really wanted to help them, and we both cringed a little, because $50 was a quarter of our 2-week grocery budget, and it was definitely a sacrifice. Then he said, “All right. It will come back to us anyway.” The woman I gave the money to was very grateful. We then went about our business, and less than two hours later we were back at home when our next door neighbors called. They had been forced at short notice to close a restaurant they operated inside another business. They said they had a pickup load of food and they wondered if we would take it. We got about 20 loaves of bread and large amounts of all of the following: croutons, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, blueberry cake, black beans, ketchup, mustard, cucumbers, celery, ranch dressing, soy sauce, tortilla chips, green peppers, salsa, #10 cans of garbanzo beans and artichoke hearts, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember now. It literally pushed my kitchen and storage room to a little beyond capacity. (not room enough to receive it….) I laughed heartily about that! It was far in excess of what $50 could have purchased. My “tithe” on that windfall was to make a couple of generously loaded boxes of food and take them to people I knew were struggling.

    We pay our tithing faithfully and wouldn’t dare not pay it because we feel that it is the reason we are able to continue to make ends meet. Try it, Jeb, and the Lord will keep his promises.

  31. Jeffrey T
    October 20, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    Jeb,

    Tithing is 10% of our income—so if I earn $100,000 in a year, I would pay $10,000 that year in tithing, total. If you calculate $10,000 a month in tithing, that would mean your annual income would be over a million. I suspect you meant $10,000 a year.

    Although it may not seem feasible, I assure you that with faith, you’ll find a way to do it. One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 3:7) is when Nephi is given a task by God that seems impossible. He replied:

    I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

    God will always prepare a way for us to do what He asks. Sometimes, though, He requires that we first have faith and do what He asks, even when we can’t easily see how things will work out. Another prophet in the Book of Mormon said:

    Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

    I have had many experiences with tithing, and I can promise you God will provide a way for it to work. I can promise you that if you pay your tithing, and trust the rest to God, miracles will happen.

  32. Jeb
    October 20, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Sorry. I meant $1,000 per month.

    Thanks for all the replies. I really need to strengthen my testimony right now.

    Thanks.

  33. Anita
    August 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    I am getting a settlement for salmonella food poisoning that stopped the flow of my education. So far, it has taken me ll years to obtain a 3 year degree due to stops and starts. Anyways, I am in debt and I am torn about how much to tithe and how much to put towards my debt. I am getting $15,000 for a settlement and I owe $17, 500? Any suggestions? I want to do the right thing. I want to be obedient.

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