Tithing settlements

How do you feel about tithing settlements, on a scale from 1 to 10?

1 = ‘What a massive waste of time and energy. I refuse to participate.’

10 = ‘I treasure the moment when I can publicly declare my sacred offerings.’

For myself, I waver. Of course, it’s no big deal to show up and meet with the bishop in order to answer a question, but it seems like an awful lot of energy is expended on this one issue. I wish I could get a better sense of any doctrinal reasons for doing them in the way we do. A few years ago, after an odd interaction where it seemed I was being investigated, I refused to go again, but I got over it.

So I’m going with a 6: I’m not hostile about them, but neither do I have any enthusiasm: I see the tithing settlement as a basically empty gesture, but one which does me very little harm. But I might ask the bishop’s family about that.

Comments

  1. Put me at a 6, too. While I also don’t see the long-term significance (at least I pay it, right?), I will always go. As long as they ask me to, I’ll do it. And not grudgingly, either. Oh, and my kids will go and do it, too. They actually get a kick out of it…

  2. Do I get to give a before and after I was called to be the ward clerk? :-)

  3. I suppose how I feel about them hinges on my belief that my bishop is to give me the benefit of the doubt, really leaving it up to me and the Lord as to whether or not I’m a full tithe payer (unless of course the Spirit prompts him to speak with me about it further, in a spirit of love). I don’t understand why we don’t just do it in conjunction with recommend interviews, though.

    If my bishop ever challenged me on my declared status, whether openly or not, then I would feel that he is out of line. And I would tell him that.

    I give it a 7.

  4. 9,

    Kids love it and they get their own print-out of contributions. Major teaching moment. Only downside is waiting in the hall to go in with 5 active kids under 8

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m about a 2. We didn’t even go last year, and nothing bad happened, so I expect we won’t go again this year. We’re obviously full tithe payers, and we check the printout we receive for accuracy. I don’t like having to make a special appointment and schlep all the way back to the Church for what I perceive as a non-event, especially during holiday time. I’m just a grinch that way.

  6. Mark’s comment #3 reminds me of a story my sister-in-law tells. Her husband, who isn’t as good with money as he likes to think he is, declared himself a full tithe-payer a couple of years ago. No big deal, she thought, until she saw the year-total receipt. He hadn’t paid a dime.

  7. Completely agree with bbell’s comments. With the exception of the baptism interview (a 1-time event), children under 12 have no interaction with the Bishop. This is a valuable moment.

    However, if I may indulge in a little ark-steadying (this is the bloggernacle after all :-)), I would do them in, say, February (or some other boring month). As the wife of a ward financial clerk, it’s just too hard to have the entire holiday season be occupied. I take the kids (toddlers) over to the building at night so the kids can see him at least for a couple minutes of the day, and we bring a plate of food to daddy for dinner, and sometimes we bring a ball to play in the cultural hall. So there are some good memories attached. But it’s hard.

  8. Martin Willey says:

    I guess I am a 6, too. It is a good teaching opportunity for the kids, and the Bishop offers candy. But, I also think it is kind of an empty gesture. I have been pushing for on-line tithing settltment for a long time.

  9. can I give it a -4?

  10. For me tithing settlement is mostly a formality, and I’m pretty indifferent about it. I have no problem going, but I wouldn’t miss is if it were eliminated. I’m a “5” on Norbert’s scale. I might be even lower if I were a ward clerk or bishopric member, since tithing settlement involves such a huge expenditure of time and effort right around the holiday season when they all undoubtedly want to spend a little more time with their families.

    I have seen several bishops use tithing settlement as a chance to get some one-on-one face time with each family in the ward, or to personally give an admonition to each family (like “we’re asking everyone to consider whether they can give more to the missionary fund,” or “we’re asking everyone to read the Sunday School lesson before church during the next year”). I think this can make tithing settlement a little more worthwhile. But I imagine some would see this as merely turning lemons into lemonade, while others would see this as a violation of the true spirit of tithing settlement.

    Finally, I can see how a few people might see tithing settlement as a mild threat designed to keep the mainstream members paying their tithing, if only to avoid having to report “part” or “none” to their bishop at the end of the year. I’m sure there are others who would see that as a desirable effect.

  11. I had wondered why we don’t have mercy settlement each year, or kindness settlement. I mean if we’re going to saddle another meeting on the bishop why not make it about one of the weightier matters? It’s possible that another sort of settlement might also provide a fine teaching moment. Then you could also have it in March or April.

  12. Our current ward has tithing settlement on one day. This year it is this Saturday. You either see the bishop that day, or you make your own alternate arrangements. He is starting around 8 am and going until around 6 pm.

    Part of the reason, as I understand it, is that bishops are supposed to report the number of full tithe-payers. He can probably guess for most of us, but by doing tithing settlement he doesn’t have to guess.

  13. Last Lemming says:

    3 — ranking just ahead of my annual performance review at work and those dreadful IEP meetings for my son.

  14. This will sound weird, but as a former bishop, I loved tithing settlement. From that standpoint, I would give it a 9. It was a chance to visit, however briefly, with a large portion of the ward over a concentrated period of time, thank them for their service, and ask them how they were doing otherwise. The asking about tithing was actually only about 10% of the time I spent (how appropriate). It does come at a busy time of the year, and there are folks who don’t come in, but I tried to make it as easy as possible on my clerks, and my family. I tried to use it as a teaching moment as well, and loved it when the families brought their kids.

    On the other side of the fence, I’d still give it a 9. The tithing declaration took maybe 10 seconds, then we visited about our kids, our callings, and shared our concerns about one child who is wavering back and forth. Hint: It really is only partially about the tithing.

  15. Why can’t we fill out a form and mail it in? Why can’t we do it online? For those areas where the church has other forms of communication available to the ward, this would be best. You could still have the option for a personal interview if you wanted, but it would cut down on so much of the effort involved.

    I suspect that the current form of tithing settlement came about because at the time, there was no other way to really do it.

    I give it a 1.

  16. I agree with bbell and Cynthia that annual personal interaction with the bishop is a good thing, especially for children. But that seems to be merely a side effect of tithing settlement, and so it’s not really a strong argument in favor of continuing tithing settlement. The bishop could hold an annual personal PPI with each family outside the context of a financial reconciliation. (Does anyone actually attend tithing settlement just to report “none”?)

    That’s kind of the catch-22 that I suggested in the last paragraph of my #10 above: more people might be willing to meet with the bishop once a year if it didn’t involve a financial accounting, but this might also remove some of the motivation certain people have for paying tithing.

  17. One intersting point is that the ward controls the schedule for tithing settlement. We always start in early November and we are pretty done now as of the 8th of December. I really like this approach. I have to say I agree with kevinf on this.

  18. Ditto to kevinf in #14.

  19. I’m down with kevinf as well.

  20. A declaration of “part” or “none” might also be a red flag for the bishop that the family is undergoing financial hardship.

    Lots of people are just too proud to request church assistance, and if the home teachers haven’t been doing their job tithing settlement might be the only chance the Bishop gets to ascertain whether a family truly needs some financial aid.

  21. As a current bishop going on my fourth annual tithing settlement season, I enjoy it – a 9 for me.

    Gives me a chance to meet all the members and see children I don’t get a chance to interact with and to give admonishment when it is needed.

    How a member feels about I guess depends on how you view the office of the bishop. I always viewed it as a chance to meet with my PH leader and declare my status before the Lord’s authorized steward.

    I personally wish keeping all the commandments were as easy as tithing.

  22. As the Exec Secretary and the Ward Website Administrator, I found this time invaluable to correct member record information. I also used the time to set up a small table and get recent digital pictures of everyone for the ward website, which is of great use to new members and move-ins.

    As a participant, it was nice since my two kids have never talked to the Bishop, and I think it is important for them to know him.

  23. Can I give it a 1? Don’t we have enough meetings?

  24. By the way, it may be worth knowing that, if you skip settlement, your bishop has to decide for you whether you’re a full/part/none tithe payer.

  25. I don’t think 1 to 10 says much unless you rank multiple things.

    Tithing settlement is more useful than the bloggernacle, but less useful than baptism. I’d rank it above quarterly stake priesthood but below elder’s quorum. Is it better than road shows? Tough call, but probably yes most of the time. I’d definitely rank it above stake basketball, but I’m biased because I have no skillz.

    Craig, I think “mercy settlement” would be a no-show.

  26. I wouldn’t mind it at all if it were in January.

    As the tax-type person in our household, I greatly resent having to do this in late November/early December when the tax year isn’t over yet and getting a statement that is SUPPOSEDLY representative of what we paid during the year, which isn’t even close.

    Makes no sense whatsoever.

  27. Peter LLC says:

    I go out of solidarity. I reckon the bishop has better things to do than read tea leaves for clues to my personal righteousness; that said, if no one were breathing down his neck for the numbers I wouldn’t go.

  28. I give it a 1, for reasons similar to CraigH’s. I stopped going about 15 years ago.

  29. As a new bishop in the middle of my first tithing settlement I give it a 9. It’s been a good opportunity to meet with and become better acquainted with the members of our ward. Many of the members I have met with rarely, if ever, have need of meeting with the bishop, so It’s been a valuable way to develop relationships with them.
    Yes we do have enough meetings in the church, but come on, 15 minutes…and it is with your entire family. I think it is worthwhile.

  30. I do agree that it would make more sense to do this around tax time. I like tithing settlement, because, as others point out, it is often the only time I see the bishop throughout the year. Since I don’t have a calling that requires meetings, I like feeling some connection to the bishopric.

  31. [To clarify my #18: I didn't mean that I echo kevinf's comment #14. I meant that I would apply my #16 to kevinf's comment the same as I applied it to bbell's and Cynthia's.]

  32. Aaron Brown says:

    Haven’t gone in years. Last year the Bishop and I chatted in the hall for 5 seconds, and we mutually agreed that our interaction would count as tithing settlement. But we talk in other fora all the time, so he probably didn’t need to see me again. I suppose I do understand that Tithing Settlement is a convenient way for Bishops to interface with everybody, but seems we could figure out a way to do that without calling it “Tithing Settlement.”

    The more interesting question, for me, is whether I’ll ever get probed about my tithe-paying, given my habit of not paying it through the ward. I started paying directly to Salt Lake a few years back. (I’ve got no interest in revealing my finances to the ward clerk, or any of the wandering eyes as tax letters from Church HQ are distributed during priesthood, thank you very much).

    Aaron B

  33. Good opportunity to meet with the bishop, but December is too busy. Plus, every year, our second-Sunday Sacrament Meeting is all about tithing instead of something related to Christmas. I hate to link tithing settlement too strongly with taxes by holding settlement in April, though.

  34. I agree completely with Peter LLC (#27) when he says he goes “out of solidarity” because he doesn’t want to make the bishop guess about his status. It’s a big responsibility to review and report everyone’s tithing status, and I want to make his job easier.

  35. Aaron, how do you pay directly to Salt Lake?

  36. Loved comment in 20 about ascertaining the potential hardship of a family to help in time for holidays.

    We never go because we always go out of town and every other year or so we get a phone call asking if we have paid in full. I figure it is timed around holidays so people can drop off a Christmas present to the Bishop for giving so much service to the ward without a dime of compensation along with clean-up of the ward finances prior to the new year.

    I give it a 9 for the ward families for getting to spend time with the bishop and a 10 for the bishop who gets to visit with people who are unlikely to confess sins during the month.

  37. I’m not a big fan. I’d probably give it a 2. I don’t really see the purpose. If it’s just to touch base with the bishop, that could be done in other contexts.

    If I thought the bishop could actually give some sort of explanation beyond “that’s between you and the Lord” to the question of “what’s a full tithe?,” I might enjoy tithing settlement more. Instead, the great “net” vs. “gross” debate will never be resolved and I’ll probably just continue to pay on gross just to avoid hellfire (as if I don’t have other things to worry about).

  38. Peter LLC says:

    I hate to link tithing settlement too strongly with taxes by holding settlement in April, though.

    Good point. In many countries tithing isn’t really tax deductible, and catering to American tax/tithing payers by scheduling around their tax time would be a bit thick for the rest of the church.

    I want to make his job easier

    Yep.

  39. I don’t really see the purpose.

    The purpose, I presume, is to increase the amount of tithing paid.

  40. Aaron,

    You address something that is a concern to some members. The way the new stuff is set up, the bishop normally won’t see the totals of your contributions or lack thereof unless he specifically asks for a printout, which most bishops don’t have time to look at anyway. It is no longer a part of the regular tithing settlement.

    Confidentiality is supposed to be of prime importance, but we all know some can’t quite hold their tongues. We used to have a number of folks who paid directly to the church. Some were concerned about the ward clerk, or even the bishop, seeing how much they paid, others were paying in kind via stock or property gifts to the church.

    All you have to say is “Full tithe payer”, and that is sufficient. Probing beyond that is akin to asking unscripted questions on the TR interviews, and that is verboten as well. The tax statements are supposed to be in sealed envelopes, not just handing out a stack of printed forms. Call your HC member over stake audits if that is happening, as it should not. Finance clerks usually don’t last in their positions for more than a year or so, and so they sometimes don’t always have a handle on all the policies.

  41. I would have to give it a 9, in agreement with kevinf (#14). When my husband was a bishop and we had four small children, it did take a lot of his time, but it was time well spent, as he had a chance to have a personal visit with many people he would normally just give a quick greeting to in the hall. This year our bishop is using tithing settlement to personally remind all the members of our ward to come to church fragrance-free, so maybe after Christmas I can venture back to meetings again.

  42. So long as all members pass through an odor elimination screening station before entering the chapel, I don’t see how that’s a big deal.

  43. The amount of micromanagement that goes on in some wards is just mind-boggling to me.

  44. I am indifferent to tithing settlement. I guess I give it a 5.

    I suppose it would be nice to hold it sometime not-December, that being such an extra-busy time. (I’m thinking mostly of the bishopric members’ and clerks’ families–everyone else, not so much.) It shouldn’t be such a big deal. Our tithing settlement this year lasted all of one minute. Two, counting the time the bishop spent giving the children chocolates. Which in a way seems like kind of a waste of time, getting ready, packing everyone in the car, and driving down there–but on the other hand, we were right back out of there and no one suffered any long-term harm. And the chocolates were good.

  45. 2

  46. My tithing settlement for the last ten years has basicly been:

    Are you a full-tithe payer?

    Yes.

    Everything else ok?

    Yes.

    K, let’s have a closing prayer.

    not that big of a deal.

    The coolest tithing settlment story I know is from a friend who used to work for the church and helped President Monson do his tithing. Monson apparantly only paid once a year at that time and had an accountant (my friend) from the church help him figure it out. When they were done, Monson opened a drawer full of boxes of chocolates, explained he could not eat them because he was diabetic, but that members kept sending them, and gave some to my friend.

  47. Part of the problem is that people don’t understand about what paying tithing is all about. We all love to quote Malachi 3:10 about the windows of heaven, but to me the more significant portion is in verse 11:

    10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
    11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.

    I know some folks have called tithing fire insurance (“keeps me from burning…”) but who with kids or problems or any other concerns would not want the promises of verse 11?

  48. 9 – since I want my kids to have the experience of telling the Bishop they have paid a full tithe and for the same reason as kevinf. (Of course, I also live 1.5 miles from the church, so getting there is no big deal no matter the time.)

  49. One.

    I’d feel better about it if the accounting and declaration were mutual. What did the Brethren receive and do with everybody’s tithing?

    I don’t mind making a declaration to the Lord, but I don’t need an intermediary other that Jesus Christ to do that. I make all kinds of declarations to the Lord.

    Neither should the Brethren mind making a report to the members. Perhaps they don’t want to make it public because they don’t think it’s the public’s business and perhaps they would receive criticism from outsiders. If they receive feedback inhouse, I only see that as an advantage to teach, account, and clarify.

    All this secrecy cloaked in sacredness wears thin.

    I find it interesting that all of the bishops weighing in on this rate it a nine–higher than the average of all the attenders.

    Why not, when they receive all this detailed info on the members with little or no feedback and no requirement to have an open and honest discussion about stewardship.

    Now, go ahead and set me straight.

  50. #47 I know some folks have called tithing fire insurance (”keeps me from burning…”) but who with kids or problems or any other concerns would not want the promises of verse 11?

    But what does that have to do with tithing settlement?

    I give it a 5, but only because of my kids, who benefit from their parents support and sustain the bishop, and not for me, because I find it a weird “passing the plate” kind of experience. Just ask to see my recommend.

  51. Aaron Brown says:

    Kinda O (#35),

    To pay your tithing directly to the Church, make your check out to “Corporation of the President”, and mail to:

    Corporation of the President
    15th Floor, Room 1521
    50 E N Temple
    Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3617

    Also, include your tithing slip, obviously. This is how I do it, and it works. I receive my tax letter by mail directly from the Church.

    Aaron B

  52. 10. Absolutely.

  53. Yet Another John says:

    As I read these comments, it seems that current bishops and ex-bishops rate the tithing settlement experience higher than most others. Maybe that is something that should be taken into account when we rate our feelings on the need for tithing settement.

    Another thought: at least we aren’t called to go to Salt Lake each year to personally deliver our tithes and offerings directly to the temple as the Jews did anciently.

  54. AB, will that address also work for those of us who still pay with grain and livestock?

  55. Genuine question — Why does Church Headquarters need to know if members are full tithe payers? If it is suppossed to be a matter between us and the Lord, why keep track of it?

    I personally have never really cared for tithing settlement. I do, however, like the idea mentioned earlier about a yearly family PPI with the Bishop.

  56. we,

    Your ward budget is open for anyone to ask about and see. The actual discretionary allocation of funds to the average ward is quite small compared to the input of tithing. And the audit process is odious enough that it does tend to strike fear into the hearts of bishops and finance clerks alike.

    The church’s financial status is such that it allows bishops to write assistance checks without having to worry about whether or not they are covered. Controls at the local level are significant, and I have no reason to believe that they are any different at church HQ level. Missions and Mission Presidents get audited. Family History Centers get audited. Great care is exercised to maintain confidentiality and accountability, ie receipts for every expenditure, and bishops can’t get personal welfare assistance without getting signatures from a SP, and so on.

    No doubt that many of us, were we to see full disclosure from the church on all of its finances would have questions or thoughts about where it ought to be spent, from our limited perspectives or our pet priorities.

    But in my mind, the gospel is less worrying about what others are doing, than worrying about how am I doing personally. Tithing settlement gives me a chance to examine myself in one aspect, and TR interviews about many others. I’m far from being perfect enough myself, so I’ll hold it at that.

  57. 51, 54, that explains the smell of the 15th Floor freight elevator and all that bull, er, those bulls that traipse through the lobby …

  58. Steve, # 54, just be sure to include sufficient postage. Cattle are best handled as frozen steaks and burger, rather than on the hoof. They go into the drop slot at the post office better that way.

  59. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I’m inclined to rate tithing settlement somewhere less than 1. I think the description as an “empty gesture” is quite appropriate. Each year I see these gestures, devoid of meaning. Our family has avoided it for years on this premise, but aquiesced last year upon the urging of a new bishop. Surprisingly, given our lack of expectations going into it, we were supremely disappointed. We will not be participating this year, and I can’t imagine a time in the future when we could be coerced into doing so.

    It’s a practice that harkens back to a previous time, which really has no relevance today. If it’s an excuse for the bishop to check in with member/families in the Ward, let’s call it that and separate it from the accounting side of things. Doing so could free up the Bishop to spread out interviews throughout the year, and not cram them all into a period of just a few weeks. Tithing Settlement ensures that these meetings be compressed, and imbued with the inevitable feel of emptiness.

  60. I’m okay with tithing settlement, and would rate at about 7.

    Lots of people have already said that one major benefit of it is that is gives the Bishop a chance to touch base with every family in the ward- which is something I agree with.

    Some have suggested that, if this is the case, then why not just have PPI’s with every family, and cut the money talk out of it. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but I think that the money talk part gives the meeting a mandatory feeling that likely would increase the rate of participation.

    Anyhow, when I was a kid (9-ish) I remember one tithing settlement where the bishop asked me if I was a full-tithe payer and I said “no” because, strictly speaking, I had received some money that I did not pay tithing on. My parents were mortified which still bothers me; I mean, did they want me to lie about it? Really?

  61. kevinf

    Having served as a ward clerk and membership clerk (twice), I am not unfamiliar with what you say, nor do I disagree with the value of introspection and personal evaluation.

    As a retiree of IRS, where I at first did audits, but then for most of my career heard appeals of disgruntled taxpayers–both individuals and businesses–I learned to have great respect for the inspection and consideration of information and seeing issues and arguments from multiple perspectives.

    Since the Brethren repeatedly give assurances and testimony–all without any accountability to members–of their care, frugality, and sensitivity to both the Spirit and the needs for funds, it seems members might stand to learn something valuable about their own financial management by the Church’s disclosure.

    On top of that, corruption occurs at the very top of every hierarchy, no matter how holy, e.g. Lucifer et al.

    I attended with my wife and adult handicapped daughter Saturday morning and had to pass on the pastries and juice since we had already eaten. So I guess I didn’t get my money’s worth. My introspection, I guess, fell/falls short.

    I loved my father and I never hesitated to ask him why about what I wanted to know. Most of the time he gave a decent, loving reply.

  62. I give it a 7. I’m currently a finance clerk and don’t really see it as a huge burden. In total, I’ll probably spend 3 or 4 Tuesday evenings in addition to the time spent after church that I normally do (to count that week’s donations and so forth). We do tithing settlement in parallel – I think it really only adds about an hour to our time on Sunday, but again this only lasts for 4 weeks or so. Sundays and Tuesdays. Are other finance clerks spending more time on this?

  63. LOL, Turtle Mack. I recommend you get some seasonal affective disorder treatments, stat.

  64. kevinf,

    My experience from being branch/ward/stake clerk is opposite of what you say here.

    Your ward budget is open for anyone to ask about and see. The actual discretionary allocation of funds to the average ward is quite small compared to the input of tithing. And the audit process is odious enough that it does tend to strike fear into the hearts of bishops and finance clerks alike

    My limited experience with 4 bishops/branch presidents and three different stake presidents is that if a regular member asked to see the budget, they would get grilled on why they want to know, and would be reassured that money was being spent appropriately. In fact, I have been involved in a ward where the auxiliaries didn’t even know how much was budgeted for the other auxiliaries.

    When I was a ward clerk and asked to know how much money the stake kept prior to passing on the budget allotment to the wards, I was told to mind my own business.

    I never found the audit process intimidating. Maybe because I never had any problem keeping the books my audits were never odious. Follow the accounting directions from the church, don’t lose checks, sign all checks and make deposits appropriately, and there is nothing to fear.

    Back to tithing settlement. My last bishop did tithing settlement on one Saturday. We were at the church from 0800 to 2000, with a brief break for lunch and dinner, and then we were done. No needing to be at the church for three or four hours here or there. Any family who couldn’t make it on that day could schedule an appointment through the ward exec. sec. for a time during the bishop’s regular appointments. As a clerk I loved this schedule.

  65. 1. I’ve declared my tithing via email one year, when we couldn’t get a slot before having to go on vacation.

    2. I’m with Dan. It’s a lot less fun when you’re a financial clerk, although, if you’re a membership clerk, this is the PERFECT time to get everyone to validate their addresses, dates, contact numbers, and preferred names.

    3. I’ve long wanted to directly pay to SLC. We’ll probably be starting this in 2009. As it is now, we have a check scheduled to be mailed to our home, and we turn that around and give to the bishop.

  66. Genuine question — Why does Church Headquarters need to know if members are full tithe payers? If it is suppossed to be a matter between us and the Lord, why keep track of it?

    I’m sure that data comes in handy when SLC is approving recommendations from stakes regarding new bishops.

    I’m also sure it comes in handy when SLC wants to find people in your area who can financially support some new Proposition.

  67. Our auxiliaries don’t even know how much their own budgets are. My BP’s wife reassures us frequently that he doesn’t tell her anything about the members but I think she doth protest too much. I am writing down the SL address for sure.

  68. Budgets depend on the ward. The ones I’ve been in have always made it fairly transparent to auxiliary and quorum leadership and it’s available upon request to anyone who asks (although, we don’t flash it on a screen like I remember in the old days).

  69. <1

    I hate it. Getting the kids dressed-up and traipsing down to the church to stand in the hall for 20 minutes waiting, then sit with the Bishop for five minutes and answer questions we already answered in our Recommend interviews? No thanks.

    We didn’t go last year, and aren’t signed up this year. The bishop knows our situation.

  70. Lots of people are just too proud to request church assistance

    I know where you’re going with this, but let’s be careful here.

    I have found that with some people, it goes deeper than just the embarrassment of asking for help. Sometimes, these details get out and people get labeled for years. There are wards that aren’t fully evolved yet, and asking for Church assistance gets one branded for years as less than faithful.

    I am close to a family that is less active in the Church than they could be, partly because of a stigma they feel b/c of comments made by ward members after they needed assistance, and those details got out.

    I agree that tithing should be paid and church assistance proffered in lieu of skipping tithing to pay bills … but let’s be careful in how we consider people that don’t come forward. Instead, let’s focus on how we can make our wards comfortable for those in need.

  71. Thomas Parkin says:

    It would be better if the bishop gave a box of See’s candies to everyone who attended. Boxes of See’s candy were an elegant gift, from a more … civilized age. ~

  72. Thomas Parkin says:

    Aye yi yi, I didn’t rate. I give it an 8. With See’s candy, I’d give it a 10. ~

  73. One year, a family brought individually-wrapped loaves (individual small sizes) of steaming hot banana bread for the bishopric and clerk staff working tithing settlement.

    People – remember your clerks, too! Not just the bishop!

  74. The tithing declaration took maybe 10 seconds, then we visited about our kids, our callings, and shared our concerns

    Let me add another “yes” to 14.

  75. As an experience, I would give it a 7 or so, its fine. I did find it useful this year though, we realized we had,in fact, skipped a payment accidentally. So we were able to catch up before the end of the year. I always assumed that was the point, to make sure you are a full tithe payer for the year.

  76. I’d give it around a 7 or 8. I enjoyed going in to meet the Bishop as a child. My parents used it as a time to learn how to keep track of money and how to reconcile an account. As an adult I still enjoy it. We usually visit about other issues with out the seriousness of a temple recommend interview. Over all I look forward to it.

  77. I give it a 9. I love tithing settlement. Ours was yesterday. It is one of the only chances all year where we can spend a few minutes with the bishop. Our bishops have always used these as teaching opportunities for our children. It reinforces the principle of accountability. I do feel sorry for the bishop and others that have to spend so much time though…

  78. “Why does Church Headquarters need to know if members are full tithe payers? If it is suppossed to be a matter between us and the Lord, why keep track of it”

    The short answer is found here:

    “It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop; And also their manner of life, their faith, and works;…” (D&C 85:1-2)

  79. Rate me a 4. I’m a full tithe payer, but I hate having to make a special trip or go sit in the Bishop’s office. I feel like I’m being sent to the principal’s office! I feel absolutely guilty over nothing!

    In various places where I’ve lived, we send our tithing in either via the post office money order service (Japan), or send it directly to Salt Lake. I like sending it to Salt Lake so I can get the tax break.

  80. I like sending it to Salt Lake so I can get the tax break.

    You’d get the tax break anyway.

  81. Anyhow, when I was a kid (9-ish) I remember one tithing settlement where the bishop asked me if I was a full-tithe payer and I said “no” because, strictly speaking, I had received some money that I did not pay tithing on. My parents were mortified which still bothers me; I mean, did they want me to lie about it? Really?

    Totally had that same thing happen to me, Starfoxy. Here’s the lesson: Parents, teach your kids about tithing and tithing settlement before you go. They need to know what it’s all about, what they will be asked and why and what they are intending to answer and why. It’s a great teaching moment but it can be really awful if the kids are not prepared and don’t know what is going on.

  82. Mojo, sorry I wasn’t clear; I meant as opposed to paying it through the post office in Japan or to my bishop in where-ever. When I’m in a foreign country, I don’t believe I get the tax break. At least that’s what my bishopric told me.

  83. I’d give it a 1; my wife would go lower if able. The fact that it is over in 5 minutes only makes the 90 minutes it would take to load up the kids head to church, wait in the foyer, have the meeting, an go home more irritating. All of this for something covered when you get a temple recommend.

  84. I give tithing settlement a 0. My slip every year is always way short. Seriously, they can’t keep up in my wards ever, it seems. And even though I used to split it up into PEF, fast offerings, etc. it all got tossed into the tithing pot, anyway.

    I tithe regularly by sending my bishop an automatic check every 2 weeks from my bank. I’d love to go straight to Salt Lake with it, and probably will swap it over, now that I have the address. But there will be no tithe slip included. I’ll send only tithes to the address, and then do PEF, humanitarian aid, and so on directly on the web.

    I see no reason to do a tithe settlement at all. I suppose people enjoy keeping up the tradition. As for me, Yes, I’m a full tithe payer, and plan always to be a full tithe payer. Just write it down once for all time. =)

  85. The range of experiences is interesting. I can see the point about kids paying tithing. I can also see that it’s a good chance for bishops to get people into his office, but having tithing be the reason for it seems odd.

  86. across the ocean says:

    Someone commented earlier about having tithing settlement associated/not associated with tax time, particularly the American tax time. Thing is, we don’t follow the American schedule anyway.
    In Australia, we do not have tithing settlement in December. We have it in June, because that is when taxes are due here.

  87. I have attended several BYU wards where my only contact with the Bishop for the ENTIRE YEAR was during my 30 second tithing settlement. When I’m rushed out of the room after our “hi what kind of tithe payer are you how’s school well have a nice rest of your life” I kind of feel a little neglected because I know my next conversation will be at next year’s tithing settlement. I would give it a 5, though, because without it I would potentially have made it through 4 years of college without a single conversation with my bishops, including saying hello in the hallway after church. Am I bitter? Maybe just a bit :)

  88. Peter LLC says:

    Someone commented earlier about having tithing settlement associated/not associated with tax time, particularly the American tax time. Thing is, we don’t follow the American schedule anyway.

    You mean this one back at #38?

    catering to American tax/tithing payers by scheduling around their tax time would be a bit thick for the rest of the church.

    Anyroad,

    In Australia, we do not have tithing settlement in December. We have it in June, because that is when taxes are due here.

    Heretic! I have notified the missionaries. Expect them to pay a visit and tear up your recommend.

  89. I have attended several BYU wards where my only contact with the Bishop for the ENTIRE YEAR was during my 30 second tithing settlement.

    Didn’t you have a ecclesiastical endorsement interview? As a BYU student, I was more than pleased to avoid all contact with my bishops, but DSFDF.

  90. @62 Chris

    I’m a ward clerk and our schedule is not really different than what you describe. Sundays and Wednesdays (which is our YM/YW night). I split it up between myself and the financial clerk and it’s not that bad anyways.

    And to echo what has already been said we also print out each member’s IOS and have them review it for errors.

  91. Probably depends on the bishop, but in my experience, I give tithing settlement a 10. Bishops have uniformly taken the time to ask about the family, assure our security, thank us for our service, and genuinely express love and concern for us. As for tithing being the reason, I think it’s more than a pretext. I view tithing as a bellweather commandment. I understand that the main reason for individuals losing temple recommends is failing to pay a full tithe. I appreciate the call to accountability, as it elevates the import of tithes on both the individual and aggregate level.

    Though if a bishop were to launch investigations or make settlements a negative experience, I could understand the pushback by some here.

  92. I don’t know if all bishops are this way, but ours says that if people don’t come to tithing settlement, he usually assumes there’s a reason and almost always records non-showers as non-full tithepayers.

    Maybe the poll should have added in questions about how far away you live from the church and whether or not you feel you have to wear Sunday clothes to meet with the bishop.

    Personally, I don’t think tithing settlement is a big deal, but we only live a few miles away. I signed up for the first appointment on a Wed night. My older kids had to be at the church anyway at that time for their youth activities. I just put everyone in the car, we met with the bishop, my older kids were a few minutes late for their activities and I took my younger ones home to bed. So, if you can manage to sign up for the first appointment, there’s no waiting in the halls and I don’t think the bishop would send you out the door if you showed up in jeans.

  93. @meems, #82:

    Mojo, sorry I wasn’t clear; I meant as opposed to paying it through the post office in Japan or to my bishop in where-ever. When I’m in a foreign country, I don’t believe I get the tax break. At least that’s what my bishopric told me.

    Weird, okay. I would have thought if you were an American citizen paying American taxes (regardless where you were) and making charitable contributions to an American non-profit, you’d get the tax break. Better be safe than sorry, though, absolutely!

    Re doing it at tax time:

    I think someone upthread thought I meant doing tithing settlement at “tax time,” which would, I guess normally mean April. I meant, do it in January when all the employers are getting out their W-2s and 1099s, have it done by January 31. It only makes sense.

    @JES, #92:

    I don’t know if all bishops are this way, but ours says that if people don’t come to tithing settlement, he usually assumes there’s a reason and almost always records non-showers as non-full tithepayers.

    ::shaking head sadly::

  94. Matt Rasmussen says:

    I’d give it a 10 for importance many have already mentioned but deduct points for the time spent during the busiest month of the year. ;) I am sorry for those who feel they get “the bums rush” or otherwise let down. They should let their Bishop know so he can help them and help himself.

    Whether it’s convenience or other reasons, you can also have your tithing electronically transferred to SLC instead of writing a check and mailing it to the address provided by AB in #51. The EFT may be done by your employer, bank or a bill pay service. Request the authorization forms by writing to that same address or email RE-FRD-Electronic-Donations at LDSChurch dot org.

  95. Just a follow up note about getting the kids all dressed up, etc. When I did tithing settlement, if it was Sunday, I was in a suit and tie, but if it was a weekday, it was corporate casual. And I didn’t care if the kids wore basketball shorts, or the parents wore jeans. I just loved getting to visit with them.

    Apparently, some people like the experience, some people don’t. Most bishops apparently like the experience, but apparently some members feel that the bishops/church/clerks are abusing their authority or are untrustworthy.

    Correlation apparently has not had the desired effect of homogenizing the entire spectrum of church/member interaction yet.

  96. 84: Tatiana,
    If I understand your comment correctly, your ward financial clerk may need some training. If your contributions to PEF, etc. are routinely attributed to a tithing donation, that is a “gross” error that needs to be rectified. I have been a ward clerk and have often helped with finances, so I am aware that this type of error can occur. But if it happens routinely it needs to be addressed. The bi-annual audit process should catch and correct issues such as these, but it would definitely help for you to point out any discrepancies.

    Also, at any time in the year, you can ask for a summary of your donations, so no one needs to wait until the end of the year to find mistakes.

  97. In Australia we had tithing settlement in June since June 30th is the end of the financial year there. It was winter like it is in the U.S. during tithing settlement but not being at Christmas time was a big plus.

  98. Frankly tithing settlement can be good depending on your bishop. As a BYU freshman, I still haven’t done it because it is just a pain to be with my bishop at times. I would give it like a -9 here. But in my home ward I would be much more generous and give it like a 7.8- very specific, eh? Probably because my bishop is pleasant company.

  99. I proudly give it a “3.” I agree that meeting with the bishop at least once annually is not only good for the members but is also quite helpful for the bishop. But this is a mere side-effect of tithing settlement.

  100. Bro. Jones says:

    10 here. My bishops have generally been nice, but the last few have expressed such genuine gratitude that my wife and I are (large) full-tithe payer. It’s frankly among the few times I feel like someone in the Church besides our immediate friends (or people directly involved in our callings) is aware that we’re alive, active, and practicing the Gospel.

  101. StillConfused says:

    I have been thinking a great deal about the entire concept of tithing and charitable giving in general.

    I am not sure if it is true in all areas, but the local Jewish synagogue has an annual membership due that you pay to support the local rabbi and building. There is one rate for single people and one rate for families. If you are poor, there is relief available on the payment (which was less than $1500 a year for families). The rest of your tenth is to be spent in charitable ways as you determine.

    I really like that approach. It keeps the church from getting too much power, keeps members on equal footing, allows an individual to support those charitable objectives that are special to him and also allows the person to be intimately involved in his charitable giving.

    I find tithing settlement to be a bit paternalistic. I give because I enjoy doing so, not because some man is going to quiz me about it.

  102. 2. I did not go this year, and don’t really see myself going again. One small benefit I got one year was getting some sound financial advice from my Bishop, but I don’t see that as being explicitly tied to yet another meeting.

  103. I say 9. ALthough it isn’t “public.”

  104. i liked going when our bishop was a financial guru. that was helpful. otherwise, i’m not a fan. we have “tithing issues” in our house, in part courtesy of my in-laws. my fil was a convert who was misled about tithing and my mil, a lifelong member, was more than happy to continue that on and keep the cash. my husband was raised with the idea that tithing wasn’t something mandatory or essential or even important and he still hasn’t shaken that. he needs a talking-to from a bishop, but no one has been willing to do that, even when i’ve specifically requested help in that area. i haven’t asked our current bishop, who would probably be pretty hard about it.

    it was REALLY bad when we were in a part military ward and there was all sorts of talk and directions given about paying tithing on your housing allowance, if you opted to receive one instead of living on base. that devolved into figuring benefits given by your employer (everything from health insurance breaks to commissary privileges) and paying tithing on that. it was a MESS.

    and what about the kids? when do you guys start the whole tithing thing with them? i’m an adult convert, so this is all new territory for me, dealing with kids and tithing. what do they pay tithing on? when grandpa decides to give them ten bucks instead of buying them a birthday present, are they paying on that, too? i always figured we’d start on tithing with them when they were older (eight?), but now i’m paranoid that i’ve messed up. not that any of them get any money anyway, but…

  105. Matt Rasmussen says:

    Makakona, it’s never too late or too early to teach your kids about tithing. We use the principle of paying tithing on income earned. Our three kids get paid weekly if they do their weekly jobs, all based on age. They get a prorated amount based on not completing all their jobs. They pay tithing on that money. When someone gets a gift card to a store or even cash, that’s a gift, not income that they worked for and does not get tithed.

    Yes, I realize that I *already* paid tithing on it when I got paid by my employer but it’s not like my kids are paying huge sums of money in tithing. It’s not so much that I feel the need to deduct it from my own tithing.

  106. 3

    After being a clerk for 6 years I have seen some good come from T.S. Mostly it forces people to actually look at the donations summaries when they come in for tithing settlement.

    I think it can be inspiring to some people. And gives the bishop some personal time with the active members of the ward.

    But overall it seems like a checklist. I don’t believe it is worth the amount of time it takes Bishops and Clerks away from their families. Especially at Christmas time.

  107. A bishop of mine liked to suggest that tithing settlement be done as part of temple recommend interviews. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

  108. My husband and I pay tithes. However, I mentioned we should atleast skip a month to get caught up ahead. This past year was tough for alot of us. He refuses. He is so certain that if we skip atleast one offering, we’re doomed. I know we give tithes with good intentions, but I am beginning to think he is doing it for the wrong reason. He believes he/we may lose our jobs. I said, he is a mercifull God, and he’ll understand. He still won’t bugde. Now, I am very angry, because, we’re getting behind on some more bills. We had to pay several thousands of dollars for our property taxes, and still in the hole. When he recieved his anual bonus, he donated 14% of it without telling me. What should I say or do of all this?

  109. 14%?!?!

  110. S.P. Bailey says:

    File for a tithing return with your bishop.

  111. Danni, do you work? If not, maybe you should let the person who actualy earns the money make the final decision on whether to pay tithing. Your husband should listen to you, certainly, and 14% is just silly, but if he’s the one earning the money, at the end of the day it’s his decision, not yours.

  112. MCQ is on CRACK!!! /not thoughtful contribution to the discussion

  113. Danni, if I were you, I’d go talk to your Bishop and get food from the Bishops storehouse and feed it to your husband until you are out of debt.

  114. StillConfused says:

    Danni, it doesn’t sound as if you and your husband are working together on this issue. If you were, I would suggest that you consider something like putting the tithing money in the bank and paying it quarterly rather than bi-weekly. That way it is there should an emergency arise. However, I am fairly certain that your husband will have serious issue with “skipping” tithing. If he was raised in the Church, that will go against all he has been taught and will be extremely stressful for him.

    I am as uptight as they come when it comes to finances, but I would not be comfortable telling someone not to give to their church. Sure the Mormon Church is wealthy and will go along just fine without his contribution. But some part of his contribution symbolizes his relationship with his God. I respect that.

    A better suggestion might be to cut the fat in the budget. I am very confident that you can easily cut 10% of your non-charitable expenses. Stop unnecessary driving, unplug electrical items that are not being used, buy core ingredients rather than premade meals, forego the extra toiletries (makeup, body wash (just use bar soap instead), scented lotions, etc)), avoid name brands, only do free recreation such as walks, no new clothing. The fact that you are on the computer may mean that you have some extra expense there – internet fees etc.

  115. Whereas saying I’m on crack is a totally thoughtful contribution, Cynthia.

  116. If someone wants to pay tithing and somneone else doesn’t, how would you decide the issue? That’s not a situation that lends itself to a ton of compromises. Either you pay it or you don’t. And I wouldn’t be too worried, personally, about someone paying tithing for the wrong reasons. The solution to that problem is to discuss the reasons, not to stop paying tithing.

    Seems to me letting the person who earns the money (and the person who is supposed to preside) make the final decision is a reasonable (i,e., not-on-crack solution). But heck, maybe I have been smoking the pipe a little too much.

  117. #116 – I’m a SAHM. I may not earn any money, but I’m at least as valuable in our home as my husband. He doesn’t want to pay tithing, I do. So I pay tithing on half our income.

  118. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, you are on crack. Letting the wage-earner make the financial decisions that affect the whole family is contrary to the spirit of mutual decision-making that ought to prevail in a relationship. If this were a business partnership that might be an acceptable negotiated term, but not in a marriage relationship.

  119. #111–MCQ, that may sound logical, but is a very dangerous road to go down, imho. It leaves the already much more economically dependent and vulnerable spouse (which translates to dependence and vulnerability in a wide range of areas outside of economics) in an even more subservient and precarious position. I really couldn’t disagree more with it, especially when you tack on “preside,” it just seems like a recipe for some really ugly situations with unrighteous dominion, etc.

    None of this in any way reflects what I think of you personally. You seem highly not prone to unrighteous dominion. I just think that as a general rule, including the weakest of the saints, it’s a really, really bad idea.

  120. Ok, Steve, since you are apparently crack-free, how do you resolve the situation when one person wants to pay tithing and the other doesn’t? Someone has to make the final decision if there is not agreement on this issue. Who is it, if it’s not the wage earner? Are you going to submit it to an arbitrator?

  121. I would also like to clarify that my original comment was very inarticulate, and I kinda knew it at the time, which is why I labeled it “not thoughtful contribution” (that label was for my own comment, not yours, MCQ). Sorry MCQ and gentle readers for the uncouthness!

  122. Actually, JES I think, has the solution that I hadn’t thought of. I suppose you can divide the family income in half and have each person pay tithing on their half of it.

    Cynthia, thanks for the benefit of the doubt. This is apparently a very divisive issue, but since my wife works full time and we both pay tithing, it’s not something that has come up for us. It just rubbed me wrong to think that a non-working spouse should have the controlling vote in preventing a working spouse from paying tithing. That would be a bad result, in my opinion.

  123. Ahhh, #121, I get it now Cynthia. Sorry, I misread you. I should have known better.

  124. Since you are, in fact, the couthiest of commenters.

  125. I’m at least as valuable in our home as my husband

    BTW, JES, no disagreement from me on this point. In fact, based on my experience, I would guess that you are eminently more valuable.

  126. I came from a home where my Father was a nonmember and provided the family income. My mother was a full time homemaker and did not contribute to the family income. They raised 7 children. I would say that they both contributed equal amounts of effort into creating a home for their children, they just had different assignments.

    They would each take a turn at doing the finances for a few years at a time. When the other was handling them they seldom if ever asked about them. When my Mother did them she of course paid tithing from my fathers income as well as from any other increase they received. When my Father did the finances he of course did not and refused to pay tithing. At this time my Mother would pay tithing on any type of increase that she personally received.

  127. Thomas Parkin says:

    JES,

    We do the same thing. My wife is not a member, and is in fact somewhat hostile to the church. I’m a TBM. I pay 10% on my half of the money, or 5% of my total earnings (my wife is a sahm). I count myself as a full tithe payer. ~

  128. > Since you are, in fact, the couthiest of commenters.

    Er, don’t get carried away now! lol.

  129. MCQ,
    Let me join the chorus against you. Saying that the person who earns the money is somehow the final arbiter of how it is spent may sound logical, but in a marriage partnership of equals, it’s terrible advice. He earns that money on behalf of his family, not on his own.

    I don’t really know what advice to give Danni, but I do think that paying tithing whilst sliding into debt is a bad idea and contrary, perhaps, to the “render unto Caesar” idea. I suppose that if there is anxiety as to how one remains a “full tithe payer” in such a situation, then you’re going to have to get the bishop involved. Let him cut the baby in two.

  130. Ronan, I think that point of view has been well stated. I’ll just say again that I’m not meaning to offend anyone’s sensibilities, but it’s just a fact of life that unless you’re going to divide the income in half, someone’s going to have to be the final decisionmaker on whether tithing is paid or not paid. In my view, that final decision maker should be the person who actually earned the money. I don’t think that should be as controversial as you all are making it sound.

    I do think that paying tithing whilst sliding into debt is a bad idea and contrary, perhaps, to the “render unto Caesar” idea.

    I would agree that debts and taxes must be paid. A bishop with an accounting background would perhaps be the most help here.

  131. MCQ: I think it’s that the way you propose to fix one problem (disagreement over tithing) will almost assuredly create a much bigger problem (disunity, resentment, power struggles in other areas [if he decides on the tithing then I get to decide on _____], etc.).

  132. Brian, you may be right. The real solution to this problem, if there is one, is probably a lot more talking between spouses.

  133. MCQ, your argument in #130 seems to be that you concede the potential problems with the approach, but since something has to be done and there is no alternative, we must accept your solution however flawed. However, in the last few comments we’ve seen at least 3 different real-life stories of resolving this (alternating paying and non-paying years, SAHM effectively makes 1/2 the income and pays on that, etc). Also, instead of letting one of the two supposedly equal partners decide unilaterally, this could be taken to the bishop for consulting. He might even “excuse” it for now, or provide assistance, and in any case, having an outside set of eyes on the situation would help prevent abuse.

    So given that it is not the only alternative, I really don’t think the huge downsides outweigh the benefit of streamlining this one decision.

  134. A friend of mine and her husband owed some back taxes. He wanted not to pay tithing until they had settled the debt. She was not comfortable with that. She paid on her own income and he did not pay on his. The Bishop would not renew her temple recommend because he felt she should have gone along with her husband. Doesn’t seem quite right to me.

  135. Cynthia, I’m not talking about streamlining anything, and I didn’t say there was no alternative, in fact, I agreed with those who suggested some alternatives: see ##122, 130 & 132.

    All I’m saying is that, in the end, someone has to decide whether or not to pay tithing unless you are going to divide the income in half which I already conceded was a possible solution (note that this is really the same thing as paying in alternating years). I also conceded in #130 that taking the problem to the bishop was a possibility.

    Still, at some point, a decision is going to have to be made and, unless there is some way of splitting of the baby (which, again, is possible here), someone is going to have to decide to pay or not pay. Shouldn’t that final decisionmaker be the person who is bringing home the paycheck?

  136. Nora, wow. That is an unusual story. Did the bishop renew the husband’s TR? I would think not, since he didn’t pay tithing, but I have heard some stories lately of people getting TRs who did not pay tithing for one reason or another.

  137. Nora, sometimes bishops are wrong.

  138. Shouldn’t that final decisionmaker be the person who is bringing home the paycheck?

    Why?

  139. Ronan, The Church records yearly tithing status by individual, not by family, any appearance to the contrary. The person who earns the money has the formal duty to pay it.

    Non-wage earners with no other income (who declare that fact) are automatically counted as if they had paid a full tithing, whether their wage earning spouse paid any tithing or not.

    That is all as of 2004. It is possible there have been changes in the meantime.

  140. The husband’s temple recommend was not renewed either. Maybe the Bishop felt she was feeling prideful about her decision. I try to give my priesthood leaders the benefit of the doubt whenever I can, but sometimes it isn’t easy.

  141. Ronan, because that person’s name actually appears on the paycheck. You may choose to treat it as joint property ones it enters your joint bank account or the door of your vine-covered manor, but I suspect that the employer, the government and others may continue to have their own view.

    Nora, I think that’s a bad decision on the part of the bishop, but that’s just me. I think you should reward the desire to pay tithing, not punish it. I agree with not renewing the husbands TR, FWIW.

  142. Mark D, that makes perfect sense. At tithing settlement, it seems like I recall that the bishop asks each individual family member if he or she is a full tithe payer. In light of that, I feel even more strongly that the wage earner should make the final decision on whether to pay tithing on his or her wages.

  143. There is nothing that stops a couple from writing different checks from the same income with different names on the tithing slip, or alternating months.

    The software (unless it has been changed very recently) however, cannot split a donation across multiple individuals, so donations are ultimately associated with the person whose name appears on the tithing slip (unless instructions have been given to always combine a couple’s donations under one name).

    For tax purposes, if a couple files jointly, it won’t make a difference. If they file separately, then each generally only gets tax benefits from the donations made from his or her own income.

  144. MCQ-The problem I see with your logic is that it doesn’t end at tithing, and turns the wage earner into a tyrant who has the final say on everything in the house because the paycheck that pays for it all came home with his name on it. Perhaps he is a benevolent tyrant, but a tyrant none the less.

    As you said, your wife earns a wage so perhaps you aren’t aware of the extreme vulnerability that comes with being a non-wage earner. Imagine living in a house where you work hard every day, and support your spouse but your spouse believes that you don’t really own or have any real right to any of it because your name wasn’t on the paycheck that paid for it.

    Either it is family money or it is not. If it is not, then no woman should ever leave the workforce because then she will be at the complete mercy of a very imperfect mortal man. If it *is* family money then no one person gets the final say over how it is spent for any reason.

    That the church does not allow for tithing contributions under two records is a terrible flaw that I believe undermines the proclaimed importance of at home mothers.

  145. That the church does not allow for tithing contributions under two records is a terrible flaw that I believe undermines the proclaimed importance of at home mothers.

    There’s no flaw, that I can see.

    My recent experience suggests that you can submit tithing individually or jointly, although I don’t know anyone who actually submits it “jointly” (but the ability exists). Bishops (if they’re doing it right) mark “exempt” a person who hasn’t earned any money but would have paid if they had earned it. Not having any tithing to your name at the end of the year does not impact your temple recommend.

    Although, it’s perfectly fair for the bishop to hold both spouses responsible for the family not paying a full tithe, if he feels that both spouses decided not to pay a full and honest . I.e., if a wife who didn’t earn any money was complicit in

  146. That the church does not allow for tithing contributions under two records is a terrible flaw that I believe undermines the proclaimed importance of at home mothers.

    There’s no flaw, that I can see.

    My recent experience suggests that you can submit tithing individually or jointly, although I don’t know anyone who actually submits it “jointly” (but the ability exists). Bishops (if they’re doing it right) mark “exempt” a person who hasn’t earned any money but would have paid if they had earned it. Not having any tithing to your name at the end of the year does not impact your temple recommend.

    Although, it’s perfectly fair for the bishop to hold both spouses responsible for the family not paying a full tithe, if he feels that both spouses decided not to pay a full and honest tithe, even if the partial tithe is only under one spouse’s name.

    After all, when you get a TR, they ask if you are currently a full tithe payer. They don’t pull out the tax record/end-of-year statement and parse. If a wife isn’t earning *any* money and thus has no tithing obligation, but she and her husband have mutually agreed to not be paying any tithing on his income, I believe the bishop would be justified in questioning her worthiness.

  147. Sorry for the errant comment (145 is errant, 146 is what I intended to write). Having problems with Firefox and a hyperactive laptop keyboard.

  148. RosaMaria Bejarano Hurst says:

    For our family is important that we attend tithing settlements. It helps our children and us to be honest in our dealings with the Lord. I am a stay home mom. I do not make money but I feel that I contribute equally with my husband. I rate 10 tithing settlements.

  149. Starfoxy, queuno: ya lost me. From my time as a clerk I only remember it being possible to link tithing donation to an individual—i.e., no “Brother and Sister Smith.” But couples are free to donate their tithing however they wish: e.g., Brother Smith is the sole wage-earner but all the tithing is in Sister Smith’s name.

    I guess what Starfoxy would like to see is a joint tithing record for couples?

  150. Starfoxy, I understand what you are saying and I am sympathetic. None of this reasoning is intended to ghettoize a stay home mom. If that is the effect, then I take it all back.

    I actually think it empowers a stay home mom to have tithing discussed individually at the tithing settlement. If her spouse chooses not to pay tithing, she should still get credit for paying it, whether she is able to wrest any actual cash from her husbands kung-fu grip or not.

    …turns the wage earner into a tyrant who has the final say on everything in the house because the paycheck that pays for it all came home with his name on it.

    I didn’t say that and I don’t endorse it. As far as household expenses go, I would be very surprised if most of those decisions are not made by wives with little or no input from their husbands. That’s how it works at my house anyway. I’m lucky if I ever see a bank statement.

  151. quick question: my wife and I both work, but she handles all the finances. (I am blissfully unaware if we are teetering on financial ruin or prepared for the long term recession/depression we’re currently experiencing.) I do know she pays tithing in one check on both of our combined incomes on a regular-monthly-basis. The check does not distinguish between our salaries, i.e. X% is for my salary and Y% is for her salary. When we go to tithing settlement the Bishop tosses out some number and asks me if that’s a full tithe. Not knowing the answer, I defer to my wife for the answer. (After a couple of years, I think the Bishop would understand the tithing dynamic in our home and go straight to the source-my wife-but every year he earnestly looks at me and asks the question and every year I turn to my wife. In fact this year I skipped tithing settlement altogether and my wife took care of it. I find the whole tithing settlement process kind of silly-as if the Lord does not know my tithing status until I declare it to the Bishop!)

    Reading a couple of the comments above I am wondering, is the Bishop supposed to distinguiish between me and my wife as full tithe payers? I had assumed we were looked at as one tithe paying unit since, in reality, that is what we are.

  152. Actually, my experience with the software is that, indeed, only one name goes on tithing. Additionally, the software program (as of July) cannot handle a wife having a different last name than her husband. When I needed reimbursements from the church last year, all the checks had to be to my husband, because the program wasn’t capable of printing my last name. Hopefully, this problem has been fixed by now.

    While I agree that SAHM’s make an equivalent of 50% of the income and that any other thinking would be deeply abusive, I just want to defend MCQ by pointing out that I know women who share his attitude and more so. For example, one of my good friends is a female lawyer, planning to be a SAHM for some point in her career, and she told me while working on a paper about the meaning of fairness in divorce that she doesn’t think it is fair to divide the income 50-50, even if she is worse off. She told me that she values her monetary contributions more than her homemaking, and she thinks it is unfair to the person who worked to not have that contribution valued more. Obviously, I don’t agree with this attitude, especially because I am part of a church that discourages women’s employment. But, it exists, and I think it reflects different values about money.

    However, the logic I have a problem with is the idea that there needs to be a “final decision maker” in a marriage – and that this decision maker is the generally the priesthood leader. I find this logic prevelant in so many church discussions aside from tithing, and it disturbs me. While that might be true in an organization, I fail to see how a successful marriage can work under that logic.

  153. Thomas Parkin says:

    “That’s how it works at my house anyway. I’m lucky if I ever see a bank statement.”

    Ah! Now we see how it is. You aren’t a tyrant, bent on the obeisance of your family to your every financial whim, you are actually a big child, trembling before your wife as you ask for a little lunch money and bitter and resentful about her power over you.

    *snicker*
    *big wink* ~

  154. When I was a new member, married to a non-member, tithing became a HUGE issue for us. I worked full-time, and never considered tithing on his income, but even on my income it was a regular and consistent bone of contention.

    When I talked to my bishop about it, he said that the “exempt” box was just for that purpose. He told me the church had no desire to come between a husband and a wife, that the Lord knew my heart, and the time would come when I’d be able to start tithing again, and I would know when that time was. And that in any further interviews about temple worthiness, etc., if I was asked if I was a full tithe payer, my answer was to be “yes.” Because as far as the Lord was concerned, I was.

    When it was time to start tithing again, I knew it. And I did.

    So, MCQ, there is another solution. For the sake of the marriage, DON’T pay.

  155. My wife and I pay jointly – one check under both names. It’s never come up as an issue, and we have received one statement with both names on it for as long as I can remember.

    When I was the Ward Clerk years ago, I routinely entered joint payments as one contribution under two names – (First Name) Jane and Joe (Last Name) Jones, for example.

  156. StillConfused says:

    When I was married, my spouse did not like tithing. He just hated writing that check and seeing that money “gone”. So I just paid tithing for both of us out of my earnings. I personally have never been comfortable telling anyone what to do with their earnings, even if I am married to them. Since the Church made it clear that I needed a man in order to get to the CK, I paid his tithing too.

  157. I almost spewed a drink at the screen when I read MCQ’s first comment on this thread. I am in Starfoxy’s camp in that if the wage earner is the final decision maker on tithing, then there should be no question when said wage earner comes home driving a new vehicle he chose to purchase or flush with cash from the second mortgage he opted to take out. Why should the non-wage earner have any say in any financial matters? It is a dangerous precedent you set. I believe this sort of solution is contrary to the Proclamation on the Family and would seriously erode the marital relationship.

    I would rate tithing settlement a 5. No strong feelings one way or the other. Some years we go; some years we don’t. We try to go but if we are traveling for the holidays and aren’t around during the days set aside, I don’t make a concerted effort to set up an alternate appointment. My experience has been as Ray (#155) describes it–joint check/joint statement. No problem.

  158. Thomas, you’re just figuring that out now?

    if the wage earner is the final decision maker on tithing, then there should be no question when said wage earner comes home driving a new vehicle he chose to purchase or flush with cash from the second mortgage he opted to take out. Why should the non-wage earner have any say in any financial matters? It is a dangerous precedent you set. I believe this sort of solution is contrary to the Proclamation on the Family and would seriously erode the marital relationship.

    Nameless, let me just say again, that’s not what I said and not what I’m advocating. There’s a vast gulf between having someone make the final decision and having someone make decisions without any input. If you can’t see the difference between those two things, there’s no point in continuing the discussion.

    Natalie, if a marriage can function without a final decision maker, then great, don’t have one. In my experience, however, that’s a prescription for vaporlock, where no decisions get made except those where the two parties are in full agreement. If there’s a disagreement, how do you decide what to do?

    As a great prophet wisely said:

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice,
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice,
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill,
    I will choose a path that’s clear:
    I will choose freewill.

    Words to live by, friends. Words to live by.

  159. I see the distinction you are making MCQ, and I agree that the problem of potential deadlock is real. However, I also believe that the money I earn is earned and held in trust for my wife and me. It is hers has much as it is mine. If I assert the right to pay tithing over her objection, I am really giving to the Church that which was not mine to give. If we really are deadlocked, then I believe the veto power goes to the person who elects not to give, and not to the person who chooses to give that which is jointly owned.

  160. If there really is a disagreement over full payment vs. non-payment in a single wage earner household it seems the manifestly obvious thing to do is to for the willing partner to pay tithing on his or her half. The coercion of full payment or non-payment by either partner seems abusive, in the form of discounting the value of one partners contributions to the household to nothing.

  161. Ray (#155), The statement is inconsistent with the way records are tracked internally. Every donation statement is ultimately associated with one individual. The inconsistency causes problems for finance clerks on a regular basis, because half of the time when a tithing slip comes in with a different spouse’s name on it, the clerk does not no whether to credit it to the listed spouse or the original.

    If the clerk enters the donation under the name of the spouse, at the end of the year two donation statements will be issued. This inevitably causes a large percentage of people to come back and say they really want to be grouped together, which means the clerk has to go back and adjust all the entries so that they are associated with one individual, even though the statement lists the spouse as well.

    At the end of the year, the bishop reports tithing status for each individual, and if all the tithing was reported in the name of one spouse, and they both indicate that a full tithing was paid, the spouse with the reported tithing is internally reported as a full tithe payer, and the spouse with no reported tithing is internally reported as “exempt”, which is just another way to say “full tithing reported on zero income”.

  162. “does not know“, that is.

  163. Natalie (152) – I can tell you that MLS can indeed handle women with different last names when it comes to membership and finance. (It can’t handle directories very well). It has been this way for a couple of years.

    We had at one time 4 couples with different surnames. Your clerk expertise may vary.

    Note, though, that there is one “family surname”, which is whatever you choose to make it.

    But you may certainly have a Peter Priesthood married to a Molly Mormon, with a “family name” of Priesthood-Mormon (or whatever).

    My wife and I have the same last name, but we pay tithing separately on income earned. We each get a tax statement at the end of the year.

  164. If the clerk enters the donation under the name of the spouse, at the end of the year two donation statements will be issued. This inevitably causes a large percentage of people to come back and say they really want to be grouped together, which means the clerk has to go back and adjust all the entries so that they are associated with one individual, even though the statement lists the spouse as well.

    I guess the thing to note is that it’s the family’s decision to note how this should be done, not the ward’s.

    I’ve never seen in my clerk experience anyone come back and ask to be regrouped. They just get two statements and can file them appropriately with their taxes.

    I will have to re-verify this next Sunday, but I believe you can record a donation from “Husband and Wife Surname” if that’s how it’s submitted. (It may be more complicated, but I believe you can do it.) I’ll have to verify that next week.

  165. MCQ: Many decisions are minor enough to not really matter, so disagreement is in most cases okay. But on big decisions, where both spouses really care, I think it would ruin a marriage for one person to claim the right to be the “final decision maker” over his or her spouse. You need to talk things through until a compromise is reached. If the difference is too big to overcome and really too important to the spouses to compromise on, then my personal feeling is that they maybe shouldn’t be married.

    I’m thrilled to know that the system can support dual names. I really appreciate how the church is improving its technology to be more flexible. The new family search is especially excellent!

  166. Other than TR interviews, we do not affirm adherence to nor does the church bookkeep personal devotions of LDS and Christian values – other than for tithing. I see no need for year end declarations. If interaction between children/families and the bishop is important then provide a forum for this, but don’t do it under the guise of church monetary settlements.

    I believe that the practice of bookkeeping this ONE (monetary) area of LDS devotion sends the wrong message regarding the spirit of church devotion and giving.

    Earl

  167. If the difference is too big to overcome and really too important to the spouses to compromise on, then my personal feeling is that they maybe shouldn’t be married.

    Really? Isn’t marriage more important than tithing, or any other one decision? And aren’t there some decisions that just need to be made one way or the other?

    You can’t always wait for a compromise, in my experience. If both a husband and wife are on opposite sides of a decision about whether to pay taxes, or what deductions to claim, for example, there’s a deadline that needs to be met. I say let one person decide and move on. You can’t break up marriages over not being able to compromise every time.

  168. MCQ. I apologize if I have misinterpreted your position. It would seem however, there must be some nuance missing from your explanation as I am not the only one to make this interpretation. If an issue has become so important to both parties, I think it is sometimes helpful to seek an outside arbitrator–in this case that would be the bishop. He may be able to suggest a solution that would be acceptable to both husband and wife.

  169. Nameless, I agree with that, and already said so.

  170. Earl, I believe the practice of tithing settlement originated in the United Order. See D&C 72:3-5. The principle is general enough that the practice is likely to continue in some form or other indefinitely.

  171. Nameless, let me just say again, that’s not what I said and not what I’m advocating. There’s a vast gulf between having someone make the final decision and having someone make decisions without any input. If you can’t see the difference between those two things, there’s no point in continuing the discussion.

    MCQ, is there a difference between those two things? I’m serious. If the wife only gets her way when that way happens to coincide with the husband’s, then it is really as if she is not there at all. Where is her impact? That is the effect of naming one person the “final decision-maker.” Sure, the wife can try to persuade and whatever. But it is futile from the start under your system.

    Your marriage sounds so great that perhaps you can’t even imagine things being otherwise, but you need to trust what everyone in this discussion besides you is trying to tell you—that is a recipe for very ugly and abusive situations.

    —–

    (This next part is purely a legal matter. The potential for abuse described above is to me the vastly more important issue. But I share this FYI:)

    From a legal standpoint, in a household with one wage-earner and one SAHM, half the money belongs to the spouse. Also, in at least some jurisdictions, the SAHM can overrule spending decisions:

    For example, if the husband gives a gift of land to another (a mistress for example) who is not a relative of the husband or wife, the wife has the right to ask the court to revoke the transaction.

    There was that famous case in Seattle a while back where a wife sued her husband’s mistress for full the cash value of all the gifts he had given to her over the course of their decade-long affair. I’m sure the church doesn’t want to end up in that situation, hence their policy of exempting members with uncooperative spouses.

  172. Cynthia, you are certainly correct from a legal standpoint. Income earned by either spouse during the marriage is part of the marital estate and belongs equally to both spouses.

    As for your other point, of course there is a difference between having a final decision maker and making decisions without input. The final decision maker has nothing to do if there is agreement, or if a compromise can be reached. If there is no input at all, and decisions are made without consultation, that’s a far, far different matter. I can’t imagine that you really can’t see that.

    Of course, if someone knows they are the final decision maker and wants to use that as a means to abuse the other party, that can certainly happen. I am talking about a situation where both parties are reasonable and have no inclination to abuse each other. If a situation of potential abuse is always lurking around every corner, nothing is really going to work.

  173. “Income earned by either spouse during the marriage is part of the marital estate and belongs equally to both spouses.”

    Not necessarily, it depends on what state you live in.

  174. woodboy, I think you’re wrong. Please name a state which does not treat income during the marriage as part of the marital estate. I think there isn’t one.

  175. #161 – So what?

    My wife and I got our tithing statement (singular) today, just as we have for the last 23 years. It shows both of our names on it, just as it has for the last 23 years. We got it after submitting our combined tithing (one amount for both incomes) all year on one tithing receipt form, just as we have for the last 23 years. We both declared ourselves to be full tithe payers in the settlement, just as we have for 23 years. No mention of “exempt” was made, just as it has not been once in the last 23 years.

    If neither of us cares one bit what the internal record shows at the end of the year, as long as we both show as full-tithe payers, and if the local record shows both names as one contributor, what’s wrong with the way we have been doing it for 23 years?

  176. It’s part of the marital estate, but it does not necessarily belong equally to both spouses.

  177. As for your other point, of course there is a difference between having a final decision maker and making decisions without input. The final decision maker has nothing to do if there is agreement, or if a compromise can be reached. If there is no input at all, and decisions are made without consultation, that’s a far, far different matter. I can’t imagine that you really can’t see that.

    They are very different, but as I said before the difference is between a benevolent dictator and a cruel despot. The benevolent dictator allows himself to be petitioned and even persuaded, but the power dynamic remains the same.

  178. Not if both parties each have the final decision making power over different spheres, Starfoxy. Then there’s no dictator, just two people trying to get things decided.

  179. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, woodboy’s not wrong. Not all states have a concept of communal marital property like you describe.

  180. It drives me crazy that they combine all our tithing under one family group.
    I work. So does my husband. Tithing is an individual and family obligation. We have separate accounts and each is responsible to pay their own tithing. If something happens that the family account owes some tithing, we write it from the family account (That’s happened once, when we sold a home and made a profit). I fill out my slip, he fills out his own. However it all gets combined under his name… like my contributions don’t count. It is paternalistic and I hate it. It also makes it more difficult to track if the donations are correct because I know what I paid and he knows what he paid of the top of our heads. Frankly, I earned it, and I paid it and it deserves to be in my name.

  181. Elphaba, Ask them not to. Tell them why. The clerks should not be putting your donations in his name without your consent.

  182. Ray, If you don’t care, I am sure the clerks don’t care. If you file jointly, the government doesn’t care. The bishop, however, is forced to care about the distinction, which he indeed may not bore members about at all (in my experience).

    “Exempt” is a ridiculous misnomer here, of course. It is just what they call it, for what reason I know not, to make a distinction that seems technically pointless.

  183. Steve, this is not the same thing as community property, and I think he is wrong.

  184. Saying it’s part of the marital estate means that it is subject to division between the parties at the time of divorce. There may be different rules about how marital property is divided, but all states I know of divide marital property 50-50.

  185. “all states I know of divide marital property 50-50.”

    This is only true in a small minority of states mostly in the West (the community property states), notably California. Most others, including pretty much all of the eastern half of the country adhere to the doctrine of equitable distribution, where the court determines based on a number of different factors what is a fair split for the assets during a divorce. Factors such as length of marriage, existence of children, income disparities and future earning potential, etc.

  186. Just spoke with a bishop friend of mine (our bishop was unavailable) re 180 and 181.

    – Ward are to record the donations under the name (or series of names) provided on the slip. Sometimes that drives clerks nuts when people use different names.

    – There is no particular need to associate one person’s tithing with their spouse, for tax purposes.

    – Bishops are not supposed to parse the tithing statements at settlement time. They are simply to ask “are you a full-tithe payer?” and note the “exempt” distinction if appropriate. [Note that it is possible to send tithing directly to SLC, so you may not have a statement at all.] [Also note that tithing does not transfer with you to a new ward, so it's possible to move in November/December to a new ward and have no tithing to view. That doesn't change your declaration.]

    Just because some wards do it wrong, doesn’t mean the Church is treating SAHMs inappropriately. In fact, to the contrary, it seems like they are careful to follow whatever naming convention you choose to use.

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