Tithable Income

Some years ago a youngish man, who only lived in our ward a short time, was giving a talk in sacrament meeting. I don’t really recall the talk, except that he mentioned in the course thereof that it is acceptable to pay one’s tithing on one’s net income. After he sat down, a SP counselor, who was presiding, stormed up to the podium and red-facedly “corrected” this scandalous misinformation, telling us forcefully and in no uncertain terms that we are to pay tithing on our gross incomes. Ironically, however, as I’m sure you all know, he was wrong. (So much for the protection of having a presiding authority on the stand ready to remedy such mistakes.) The Church’s official position has long been that we are to pay 10% or our “increase,” which has been interpreted to mean “income.” No one is authorized to make any statement other than that. Which is to say that how we calculate tithing is simply between us and the Lord.

This official Church position doesn’t stop members from talking or wondering about it. My impression is that a lot of members simply aren’t very comfortable coming to this conclusion on their own, and would much prefer to be told how to calculate their tithing so they wouldn’t have to take the responsibility themselves. Personally, I like the Church’s policy in this area. I agree with President Hinckley, who used to talk about the virtue of not having some sort of a voluminous Tithing Code with its accompanying Regulations.

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