The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global faith that receives funds and other donations from a variety of donors. The Church uses these charitable donations to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, to care for the poor, and to strengthen members’ faith and commitment to Jesus Christ.
But the details of exactly how tithing funds are used and how other donations are handled are often misconstrued. Here are five misconceptions about tithing and the truth behind them.
1. Tithing and fast offering are used for the same things.
Tithing funds are disbursed directly to the Church’s educational, missionary, building, humanitarian and welfare programs. Tithing also funds the construction and maintenance of Church meetinghouses, temples and other facilities.
Fast offerings, which consist of at least the amount saved by fasting for two meals each month, go directly to supporting the poor and needy in local congregations.
2. Tithing must be paid in cash.
In the early days of the Church, members often paid their tithing in kind — chickens, eggs and sacks of potatoes were just as welcome as cash donations. As lifestyles have changed since then, so has the typical way of paying tithing. But “donations in kind” are still accepted, generally in the form of stock, real estate or other assets. Some Church members choose to donate this way for tax reasons.
3. Designations members request on donation slips are guaranteed.
Donation slips were changed early in 2012 to improve the handling of tithing and other donations. Members can still specify to which funds their donations go, but the new slips include revised language on the bottom of the slip.
“Though reasonable efforts will be made globally to use donations as designated,” the slip reads, “all donations become the Church’s property and will be used at the Church’s sole discretion to further the Church’s overall mission.”
4. Tithing is the Church’s only source of income.
Tithing and fast offerings make up most of the Church’s income, but the Church also holds commercial business interests. Many of these are related to enterprises that began when Church members were largely isolated in the West. These enterprises bring in relatively small amounts of money compared with tithes and other offerings, but they do bring in some.
5. The Church pays no taxes.
The Church is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, which means tithing funds are not taxed. However, the Church’s commercial, for-profit entities are subject to federal, state and local taxes.