Am I exempt from paying tithing? It depends.

Between December and January, Bishops frantically try to meet with members to conduct tithing settlement. During these interviews the Bishop asks members whether they are paying a full tithe and the response is usually quite simple: Yes, no, or part. However, there are also some circumstances in which members may be exempt from paying tithing. Young missionaries, for example, are not required to pay tithing. In addition, the CHI also states that “Members who are entirely dependent on Church welfare assistance” are also exempt.

Most members, I suspect, would feel comfortable with this exemption and yet those who receive state benefits are not similarly exempt. How can we reconcile these two?

The most parsimonious explanation, it seems to me, is that the church sees minimal value in receiving tithing on money it has already given to its members. In other words, imagine someone requires $1000 in welfare. It makes little sense for the church to require that individual to pay $100 of this money back to the church as tithing, especially if this just recreates financial difficulties. Perhaps, the church could estimate the need (i.e., in this case $1000) and then just include an additional ‘tithing payment’ (i.e., $100) which is then given back to the church. However this circularity is redundant from the church’s point of view.

Again, I suspect that most members would not have a problem with this policy.

While I agree with the logic, this type of reasoning also obscures two dimensions to the tithing debate that are worth considering.

First, paying tithing, at least as commonly described in our rhetoric, opens the door to particular blessings. Mary Fielding Smith’s retort to the man who tried to persuade her to not pay tithing is typical of this. She famously said: “Would you deny me a blessing?”[1] While this circularity may be redundant for the church, it may not be redundant for the tithe-payer. Is the church denying those on church welfare the blessings of paying a full-tithe?

Most – and I agree – would argue that those who are on church welfare still receive the blessings of paying a full-tithe because they are unable to do so. That is, the Lord blesses these individuals and families according to the intent of their hearts rather than according to whether or not they contribute. In the eyes of the church and its members, failing to pay your tithing when you are receiving help from the church does not alter your standing with the church or the Lord.

The second issue that is partially obscured concerns need. Church welfare provision is assessed by a bishop based on need and the bishop then meets that need in the best way he can, according to the resources available. In most cases, this assistance is given in cash – not necessarily directly to the recipient but through another party. This might include paying for a heating bill or rent. In meeting those needs in the most efficient way, the church exempts welfare recipients from paying tithing because meeting their need is the priority.

This brings me, finally, to state welfare. The similarities with church welfare are quite striking. Members who are ‘entirely dependent’ on state welfare are receiving cash support (usually not directly) in order to meet urgent financial needs. Recipients of welfare in most countries (the UK included) are almost always still living in poverty; that is, their welfare payments rarely move them out of poverty but merely maintain life and health. If these members had received help from the church, then they would be exempt from paying tithing (and presumably are not losing blessings because of it). However, because recipients of state welfare receive help from a source outside of the church these members are expected to pay tithing. Very often paying tithing places them in additional financial difficulties. In short, in the eyes of the church, failing to pay your tithing when you are receiving help from the state does alter your standing with the church and the Lord.

The challenge here seems to be a contradiction between how we frame the tithing experience. For state welfare recipients, some Bishops provide additional church welfare so that such members can pay their tithing and obtain the blessings. However, we do not observe the same practice for church welfare recipients.

Here is the crux of the issue: either paying your tithing is always important, regardless of whether you can pay, in which case recipients of church welfare should not be exempt, or in some circumstances paying your tithing does not alter your standing your before the Lord. Whether this makes sense for the church (and I agree that it is rational for the church to have their current policy) perhaps obscures what is most important in this dynamic, which is the member of the church.

Developing a cross-national policy on such issues which takes into account the various welfare regimes across the world would, of course, be impossible. Focusing only on those who are ‘entirely’ dependent circumvents these debates by honing in on the level of deprivation experienced in each location. That is, if you are entirely dependent on church or state welfare in your particular country then you meet this exemption criteria.

Separating the source of financial aid from whether you are exempt from paying tithing or not would help local leaders serve those who desperately need help.

Notes:
1. I am not worried about whether this event actually occurred or not. It is only important that we use this story to serve this rhetorical end.

Comments

  1. Just to nitpick, missionaries are not supposed to be declared “exempt”. The home ward Bishops are instructed to declare them as full tithe payers, even though they don’t come to tithing settlement and haven’t paid any tithing in their home ward. (I just had to look up this issue on Sunday as I was completing the declarations.)

  2. Of course, the more obvious “cross-national” policy may be to focus more on what is meant by “interest”. If, as you put it, “welfare payments rarely move them out of poverty but merely maintain life and health”, then should they be viewed as having any interest, or increase, in their lives? It does not seem that “maintain” and “interest” have the same meaning. Frankly, the same would seem to apply for those literally “just making ends meet”.

    After all, if as Section 42 puts, consecration only “kicks in” on a family’s surplus – “if thou obtainest more than that which would be for thy support, thou shalt give it into my storehouse”, doesn’t it seem strange for the lesser law of tithing to take away that which is needed for one’s support?

    Whether “that which would be for they support” comes from the church, the state, or your own labour, how is it different? If all that you have is needed for your support, and you would thus have nothing to consecrate, why would one have an expectation of producing tithing? Why do we interpret tithing – the lesser law – as exacting more from the poorest among us than consecration would have?

  3. Also, young missionaries are not exempt if they have sources of external increase. But MSF is not their increase, and therefore they don’t pay on that.

  4. Great post, Aaron.

    I have a mild problem with tithing on state welfare for another reason: I don’t think that taxpayers want a substantial portion of welfare payments serving such a purpose.

  5. Should our children tithe on the value of the food, shelter, clothing, tuition, and transportation we as parents provide them? As a matter of common sense, of course not. What about allowances? Or what about providing them (as my parents did) a clothing allowance so we could buy our own clothing? Or lunch money rather than a sack lunch?

    When I was a bishop many years ago the thought never occurred to me that those receiving assistance should tithe on the amount of the assistance. I would be surprised if many bishops today suggest tithing on the value of Medicaid or housing assistance or food stamps.

    I suppose one could argue that there should be a “standard deduction” or “exemption” so that the amount of “income” that covers mere subsistence is not tithed. That only the amount in excess can in any meaningful sense be called “increase” or “interest.”

    As it states in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

    “A 1970 letter from the First Presidency stated that notwithstanding the fact that members should pay one-tenth of their income, ‘every member of the Church is entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord and to make payment accordingly’ (Mar. 19, 1970; cf. Doxey, pp. 16, 18). Hence, the exact amount paid is not as important as that each member feels that he or she has paid an honest tenth.”

    If there is an explicit exemption in the CHI for those receiving only church assistance and nothing else, it is probably because the FP and 12 are in complete agreement that in all cases such individuals are completely exempt, whether the individual thinks s/he is exempt or not. In other cases, and with respect to other kinds of assistance, they simply leave it up to the individual.

  6. It’s worth examining Robert F. Bohn’s review of tithing policies in the January 1984 issue of Sunstone where he considers a wide variety of questions that when it comes to calculating a true tithe. Included in them is the question of who should be exempt. In that question, he quotes from an older Church Handbook of Instruction where a broader definition of who should not pay included those entirely dependent on “welfare”

    According to the General Handbook, there are two groups of people who are exempt from tithe-paying: (1) “members without income (including wives who have no income apart from their husbands’ income) and members entirely dependent upon welfare assistance” and (2) “missionaries on full-time missions; however, missionaries should pay tithing on any personal income beyond, what they receive for support from families and others. This rule probably arose in answer to the ethical dilemma of donating to a church money which a government agency intended for the recipient’s support. In the case of Church welfare, assistance is based upon need, which means that requiring recipients to pay tithing would necessitate giving them more money; the tithe would thus become a transfer out of Church welfare funds back into tithing funds.

    Today that has been simplified (or complicated depending on how you see it) to state what you have explained, “Members who are entirely dependent on Church welfare assistance.”

    One might ask, why the change? Perhaps it is because the Church is trying to return more fully to the approach of allowing members to make their own decisions on what represents their interest or income and what they should pay? And ultimately it is up to the individual to make that interpretation. The Bishop is supposed to ask whether or not the individual pays a full tithe – it is up to the member to answer that question, not the Bishop.

    Perhaps the change is because the Church does not see welfare assistance as true income? Since if properly applied, no to very little cash should exchange hands for a member who is receiving complete assistance from the Church. Instead it is provided in commodities and services and only bills are paid with money directly to the creditor (landlord, gas company, etc). Or, since dependence of the individual on Church assistance is intended to be a temporary effort, perhaps the Church sees the work efforts of the individual as a different form of receiving blessings akin to what they would receive through tithes?

    It is also interesting to note that in the current handbook, Bishops are encouraged to help members recognize they need to comply with any laws associated with government provided assistance and that Bishops should avoid duplicating any non-Church welfare assistance.

  7. great comment, DavidH!

  8. I’m under the impression that the church doesn’t expect any tithes from non-cash benefits, regardless of whether they be government food stamps or employer-provided health insurance.

  9. Tim, the Church hasn’t given any guidance on that question so you’re following someone else’s interpretation there. The quote from the 1970 letter that DavidH cites is essentially what is written in the current CHI but it cites a different sentence:

    The First Presidency has written: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this” (First Presidency letter, Mar. 19, 1970; see also D&C 119:4).

    As I’ve conducted temple recommend interviews members will sometimes ask questions about whether or not something should be tithed. I’ve always told them that is between them and the Lord as to how they calculate their income.

  10. “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. (LoF)” In the eternal perspective, the blessings obtained by sacrifice are greater than anything that is given up (Sacrifice Study Help)

    The blessing of faith, testimony, and even eternal life, can not come unless we are willing to make significant sacrifices. So I’m trying to square how someone who does not make a particular sacrifice can be blessed to the extent to one who does. In charity, I think we have to acknowledge we don’t know and God is merciful and just and we’ll all learn and grow in ways that are best for us if we have faith.

    But it’s like saying I’m just as well off, eternally, if I lived on a deserted island and never had to impart my substance with another, never had to serve or teach the gospel to another, never had to put another first before me in a disagreement where I humbled my prideful desire to be “right”, etc. Those learning experiences, and more, have to contribute to something, since we Latter-day Saints especially believe there is a very real, eternal purpose to the physical.

    On some level the sacrifices we make refine us, and if we never make them, we have to be missing out on something, right? I think we can ultimately overcome those limitations at a later date, but the limitations are there. Just as someone who can’t marry in this life for a variety of reasons, is not receiving various blessings that come with marriage, but it doesn’t mean those blessings aren’t important or more importantly that they won’t come in a faithful future.

  11. DQ, God can think of enough sacrifices for us without his followers self-imposing them unnecessarily.

  12. Self-imposed sacrifice is self-flagellation, not sacrifice. True sacrifices are when we give what God asks us to, whether it’s easy or hard. You can’t buy righteousness with misery.

  13. OD–
    I realize the church hasn’t spelled it out. I guess my point is that the church seems fine with pretty much everyone not paying tithing on non-cash benefits, regardless of whether those benefits are provided by the government or by employers. If the church wasn’t okay with that, I’d expect to hear about it in the next General Conference.

  14. I am not surprised to read this, but have had a different experience. There was a time when we were overwhelmed by medical bills with no clear way to get out from under them, and our branch president made a deal with us. He would help with some of those bills on the condition that we pay tithing. Part of that deal, I think, was to help us get in the habit of paying tithing. In our case, that worked.

  15. Well, I’ve certainly never heard of the church giving a refund for overpayment like the IRS does. I like the idea of people determining what their “income / increase” is and paying accordingly. I’m not an interventionist when it comes to how exacting we are in following the commandments.

  16. I don’t know about you guys but nearly every sacrifice I make is self imposed… I would think if I imposed a sacrifice on you it would be taking away your agency in a sense and removing the growing experience. Simple analogy. Climbing a mountain is a self imposed hardship, in a sense (does anyone force you to do it?) but the growth that comes in strength, experience, beauty is what is gained on the way.

  17. Just a few quick follow-up comments:

    Missionaries are listed as being exempt but agree that they are required to pay tithing on earnings in their home ward from other sources of income.

    CS Eric, your story is not uncommon and while I see the principle behind it I wonder whether it would have been the same if you had been receiving church welfare and not state welfare?

    Leonard R, the problem with using the poverty metric as an exemption criteria is that there are both relative and absolute measures of poverty. While the church is concerned with maintaining life and not lifestyle there are still large differences in what it takes to maintain life in each country.

    DavidH, completely agree, except that there are some leaders, in the UK at least, that would disagree with you. That is, they would expect someone to pay tithing on their welfare payments.

    OD, I like the old policy. That is a little clearer and makes more sense to me.

    DQ, would requiring someone to pay tithing on state welfare be imposing a sacrifice on someone else?

    RJH, I also agree with that concern but did not think it would be as persuasive to others.

  18. Leonard R. says:

    Aaron – I’m not suggesting a poverty exemption (or any exemption, for that matter). And not just for the cross-national challenge you reference (which is a similar problem for the perteptual gross/net discussion).

    I do not believe there should be any exemption at all. Rather, I’m suggesting that we need to accept the direction given in the higher law – namely consecrating AFTER what is necessary for your support. If that is the principle for consecration (consecrating all you have beyond what is necessary for your support), should it not be the same for tithing? That we return a tithe of all that we have beyond what is necessary for our support?

    No need for a matrix or exemptions. Do you have enough to feed, shelter, and clothe your family? (Again, regardless of provenance).

    No? Than you need help, and clearly have no interest – to positive income (what a business would call profit) on which to tithe. You don’t have an “exemption”. 10% of nothing is nothing, so you are a full tithe payer by default.

    Yes? Than you have interest, you have positive income – and you can and should pay a full 10% of that interest in tithing, exactly as Section 119 and the First Presidency letter suggests.

    Doesn’t matter what nation you are in. Doesn’t matter your poverty level. Doesn’t matter whether it’s gross or net. Whether or not you can meet your families basic necessities is universally determinable.

    And with a little thought and honesty, it is not hard to determine if you have something beyond that, from which you can pay a tithe.

  19. Leonard R., while consecration might be practiced in this way, the church is currently very far from implementing this. In theory your idea might work well but I am trying to think through this issues within the current framework and it seems that we are unlikely to move in this direction.

  20. A concern I immediately have with Leonard’s proposition is that determining what “positive income” is. There is also difficulty in determining what is reasonable or moderate. Let’s say there are two families in a ward. Each has an income of $50,000 per year. One lives in a house that has a mortgage payment of $2500 a month and the other has a mortgage payment of $1000. What does it mean for the faithfulness, prudence, etc. of these families that one has much less “interest” on which to pay tithes? And what if one of the families spends a lot on entertainment, travel, etc., or buys a new car every three or four years? That would also leave less “interest” – or else how would it be determined what is “interest” and what is “need”?

  21. Sorry – extra “that” in the first sentence.

  22. Leonard R says:

    Aaron – but the issue is not regarding implementing consecration, per se, merely drawing from it to better understand the current framework. In other words, D&C 119 gives us a pretty clear framework – tithing is 10% of our interest. The First Presidency letter gives the understanding of “interest” as being “income”. Your post is merely another indicator, in addition to the recurring gross/net discussions, that “income” is not actually any clearer than “interest”. Which is, no doubt, why the FP letter goes on to indicate that every member should determine with the Lord what an honest tithe is (which gets to Villate’s question).

    What is “interest”? What is “income”?

    I looked to Section 42’s discussion of consecration as an indicator, not as a “we should implement consecration”. If, where you live, it costs $100 a month to feed and clothe your family, and you earn $95 a month, do you have interest? Income? Or are you not actually falling into debt?

    I use consecration because it is clear that under the higher law, you would not be obliged to consecrate anything. Indeed, you would receive from the Storehouse.

    Why then, if the higher law would exalt the poor, would we interpret the lesser law as burdening the poor? Why would we not interpret it in a similar fashion (i.e. – still exalting the poor), even if tithing is clearly a lesser law, in that it does not tear down the rich to the same extent. Particularly given that such an interpretation is in keeping with both the scriptures and the First Presidency letter – and is an interpretation which certainly has precedent in the church – even if it is not in keeping with the current “majority understanding” of the Saints.

  23. Leonard R says:

    Villate – in regards to your question, should this really be a concern. I mean, I could certainly opine that entertainment and travel are clearly not needed for ones support (though I imagine that these types of discussions would still be more fruitful than the gross/net discussions).

    But in the end, the First Presidency letter makes clear that everyone’s tithing is only of concern between them and the Lord.

    To use your example, I suspect it would mean a great mean regarding the faithfulness, prudence, etc. of these families, in how they determine what is needed for their support, and what is interest upon which they should tithe.

    But does it matter to anyone else what that family determines? Indeed, I suspect that the “uncertainty” of the matter would be beneficial to most people, in as much as they desired to pay an honest full tithe, in that it would oblige them to actually council not just with their family, but directly with the Lord as well.

    In short, I understand the “difficulty”, but I honestly don’t see why it is a problem, rather than a blessing.

  24. I agree with you in principle, Leonard, and I hope that I would be one who would be inspired to be more careful in my stewardship over what I have as the result of paying tithing in this way. However, I think in practice this would not be the case. Certainly not for me, if I had to counsel with my family and the Lord every paycheck to determine what is a need and what is frivolous. I try to live modestly for the most part, but the way we live (house we chose to buy, areas we chose to live in, clothing style, etc.) has been influenced a great deal by my knowledge that 10% of what I and my husband bring home in income comes off the top, so to speak. And I am pleased to do it and consider it a privilege and feel that I have been blessed in many ways because of my and my family’s willingness to pay our tithing. However, if instead we brought home our pay and used it as we saw fit – which would most certainly not always be perfectly consistent with what we need vs. what we want – and THEN took 10% off of THAT, I suspect we’d end up paying a whole lot less than an honest tithe. Furthermore, I would like to think that I would not think about what others are paying in tithing, and I most likely would not think about it often, but it would be hard not to notice that some people have a lot more “stuff” that they consider necessary (big house, new car, expensive appliances, shopping at Whole Foods rather than Aldi, etc., not to mention the entertainment options I rather facilely suggested above). That sort of judging would be on me personally, but you can’t deny that it would happen and would probably lead to even more divisiveness and such than we already suffer from in the church. Again, in principle this sort of consecration is lovely and would do much to bring us as individuals and as a church closer to the Lord. In the real world, though, I just don’t think it would be practical. Perhaps a happy medium – and this probably already happens to a great extent – is to be less strict in the wording and allow Bishops more leeway in helping a family determine what is truly a full tithe and why or how anyone should be exempt. It’s an interesting thought exercise, in any case. In considering this topic yesterday and this morning I have been thinking a lot about how I can better consecrate my money and time, so the OP and subsequent discussion have done their job. Now I have to do MY job, which of course is much more difficult and less pleasant than just thinking or writing about it. :)

  25. Two points
    1) Why don’t more people pay tithing online via the church gifts in kind department? It totally side-steps this question as the local unit tithing receipts show a healthy $0 and you are greeted with kindly looks of puzzlement every year during tithing settlement as you declare yourself a full tithe payer
    2) Why are we down in the weeds so far on this issue? Tithing is a personal matter between myself and God. I know when I am a full tithe payer and I declare myself as such. Trying to determine via a complex tax-code like structure misses the point IMO and I hope that we as a community do not devolve into becoming dependent on that level of direction.

  26. Leonard, I suspect you would be more comfortable with the approach that was taken by the RLDS now Community of Christ. See the link I made above for the Sunstone article written by Robert Bohn. As he states, the RLDS church took a different interpretation of D&C 119 than the LDS church has. Given, this was back in 1984 before their transition to the Community of Christ and I believe more recently they have shifted away from a specified amount toward a concept of Disciples Generous Response where members pay what they feel God calls them to pay.

    Here’s the old calculation:

    In the RLDS church, new converts prepare a “first tithing statement (an inventory)” to determine their initial net worth. Tithing for these individuals begins with a free-will offering of one-tenth of this amount. New members can spread out the payment of this initial tithe over their lifetimes, depending upon their individual abilities to pay. Some choose to defer payment until after death by donating a portion of their estate to the RLDS church. After the initial tithing assessment, faithful members of the RLDS church prepare an “annual tithing statement,” which requires an accounting of gross income from all sources. From this total, members deduct “basic living needs,” which may include expenditures for taxes, housing, utilities, furnishings, maintenance, insurance, food, transportation, personal care, services, and supplies, as well as medical and dental care. The remaining amount constitutes one’s “increase,” or tithable income. It is one-tenth of this figure–annual gross income minus basic living needs–that faithful RLDS members pay as their full tithe.

    Self-employed persons calculate their increase by determining net business income (gross revenue minus business expenses) and then subtracting the allowable basic living needs. Due to some peculiarities associated with farm accounting, the RLDS church has a separate “annual farm tithing statement” form to help farmers determine their tithable income. The RLDS Presiding Bishopric’s office publishes manuals to explain tithing principles and to assist members in budgeting their annual income and preparing tithing statement forms.

  27. It is kind of a side note, but most bishops I have had, require families to apply for government assistance, if they think a family qualifies. Several bishops have made it clear that unless families do this, the church welfare system would be totally overwhelmed.

    I know several people have shared the opinion, in other discussions, that taking government benefits is something church members should not do, because we have the church welfare programs. When my husband was unemployed, no one questioned whether he should receive unemployment, but we received some flack from our home teacher for taking advantage of both government assistance programs and church assistance. He was a member of the bishopric and knew the amount we paid in tithing was less than the amount the church was helping each month. I was frustrated enough that I sat down and made a side-by-side budget of the month before my husband was suddenly laid off, and our budget 4 months into our “unemployment adventure.” Even when you took into account church help, unemployment benefit payments, government supplemental health insurance payments, free student lunches for our kids, and two other government programs that helped pay specific bills, our income was 40% of what we had been making before.

    When confronted with the numbers, including several fixed costs we could not change, (alimony to his ex-wife being one of the biggest) our home teacher finally backed off some. I found out that he had also been shaming several other families who were receiving assistance, and ended up talking with the bishop and stake president. He was eventually released a few weeks after he bore his testimony that people would not find themselves unemployed and needing assistance, if they were better people, and that he encouraged members to vote for politicians that would cut welfare programs, in the election to be held later that month.

    I wish that was the only time I knew of someone, with stewardship to help the poor, blaming members for their situation, *when they are aware of the details of situations in their own congregations.*

    Another one that I have struggled with is bishops expecting students to pay tithing on disbursements of stident loan funds, that are meant to cover housing and other listed costs. I finally got through to one bishop, by asking him if he demanded students in dorms pay tithing on loan money that pays for dorm and meal plan fees. Another wanted to assume that my scholarship was being refunded, (even though the terms of the scholarship said it could only be used for tuition, fees and books) and that loan money was being used for my tuition, because he had paid tuthing on his BYU scholarship. I told him I was glad that his scholarship gave him extra money to spend so he could tithe on it, but I was careful to only borrow what I needed for actual expenses, and even that was more than I wanted to borrow. I paid tithing on my student job, but not my financial aid. I sometimes wonder where the bishops who don’t ask too much about finances are, because simply declaring, rather than being asked why my tithing payments were so less than 1/10 of my rent, was a regular issue for most of my previous schooling. (So far no one has asked since my husband and I went back to school, but its early in the term.)

  28. Julia, if a Bishop or anyone else ever tells you that taking government assistance is wrong when you have legitimate needs, feel free to refer them to the Church Handbook. I realize in many LDS conservative circles there is a belief that government welfare is an evil that should be completely eliminated, but that attitude is not consistent with the Handbook.

    This is what it says about using non-Church resources for assisting the poor:

    Members may choose to use resources in the community, including government resources, to help meet their basic needs. The bishop and members of the ward council should become familiar with these non-Church resources. Such resources may include:

    1. Hospitals, physicians, or other sources of medical care.
    2. Job training and placement services.
    3. Help for people with disabilities.
    4. Professional counselors or social workers.
    5. Addiction treatment services.

    Even when members receive assistance from non-Church sources, the bishop helps them avoid becoming dependent on these sources. He also advises them to comply with any laws associated with receiving non-Church assistance, especially while receiving Church welfare assistance. Bishops should be careful not to duplicate non-Church welfare assistance.

    The only encouragement made is to help members work toward self-reliance rather than remaining dependent on support programs. Think about it, our Church does not run soup kitchens or homeless shelters or abused women shelters but we do at times encourage people to seek assistance there. In the US, everyone who works and receives a paycheck that is properly taxed has an employer who pays into the Federal Unemployment Insurance fund and as little as it might be compared to many people’s normal salaries, it is still something you should seek to help bridge the gap while you seek new employment.

  29. Coming late to this, but as someone who has received government welfare, there is another consideration. Were I to have enough funds to be able to donate to a charity, I would quite possibly lose my welfare benefits. The state provided substantial hoops which must be cleared to receive those benefits, and were I to show charitable donations, I would jeopardize those benefits. And I daresay, justifiably so.

  30. Agree, TM. State welfare should not be tithed.

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