Question: Can one pay tithing on only net or surplus income and still be a temple worthy and faithful Latter-day Saint?

Table of Contents

Question: Can one pay tithing on only net or surplus income and still be a temple worthy and faithful Latter-day Saint?

First Presidency statement: "The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay 'one-tenth of all their interest annually,' which is understood to mean income"

Members of the Church covenant to pay tithing—the word comes from "tithe," meaning "a tenth."

This has naturally led to the question, "A tenth of what? Gross income? Net income? Pre-tax? Post-tax?"

Quite simply, the method is left up to the individual. The First Presidency issued the following statement in 1970, which is repeated the current (2006) Church Handbook of Instructions:

The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, 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. [1]

No member is ever to be told how to calculate their tithing

Each member is to prayerfully decide how to interpret this statement. No member is ever to be told how to calculate their tithing. No member is authorized to tell another how to pay tithing.

Each year, members of the Church meet with their bishop and declare their tithing status—they either indicate that they are full tithe payers, or not. No questions are asked about the means whereby this is determined—such matters are between the member and the Lord.

Anyone who claims otherwise bears the burden of proof, and should be required to produce a statement which differs from the First Presidency's statement of 1970, to which leaders have repeatedly appealed since. This includes the most recent Church handbook.[2]

Notes

  1. First Presidency letter, 19 March 1970. This letter has been quoted in numerous talks by general authorities and Church lesson manuals. A convenient examples is Robert D. Hales, "The Divine Law of Tithing," Ensign (December 1986), 14. off-site
  2. Handbook 1:Stake Presidents and Bishops (2010), 14.4.1. In accordance with Church policy, FairMormon will not reproduce the contents of the first volume of the handbook here. Members who wish to consult this volume can do so, however, by asking to see their bishop or branch president's copy.