According to Sam Brunson writing for Times and Seasons (18 Jan 2012):
ABC broke the news: Mitt Romney has donated millions of dollars worth of stock to the Mormon church. SEC filings disclose that a Bain partner donated $1.9 million of Burger King stock to the Church; in addition, the Church has received stock of other Bain holdings, including Domino’s, DDi, Innophos, and the parent company of AMC Theaters.
But why? Why would Romney give the Church equity stakes in bad fast-food chains, second-rate pizza chains, and other such holdings?
So why did Mitt Romney do this? Why does he contribute stock to the LDS Church? He does it for tax reasons which are explained in the T&S article. In essence, he gets the government to assume some (or most) of his tithing obligation.
The “Taxguy” commenting on the above T&S post wonders about the inequity of it all.
I think there is a much bigger deal going on here as far as the Church is concerned. Romney’s effective tithing rate may be as low as 1% after tax benefits. A typical wealthy person with a Federal and State tax deduction may pay tithing at an effective tithing rate of 5%. The widow and her mite with only standard tax deductions pays tithing at an effective tithing rate of 10%.
So, the person who has the least to pay, pays at the highest effective rate. This is so unfair to the poor and needy.
I know this is how the tax code works, but is it how the Church should work – shouldn’t we require some balancing of this? As an individual, do we really feel in compliance if we are getting 50% or 90% of our tithing right back? What kind of sacrifice is that?
“Naismith” commenting on the same article brought up a slightly different issue on the same general subject:
One of the big plusses for well-to-do US Americans is that they get health insurance through their employer and generally do not pay tithing on the (usually larger) portion of premiums paid by the employer, since those dollars never actually came through your hands (but save significantly on health care costs throughout the year). I think the average employer premium for a family plan is about $12,000 per year.
Should we be paying taxes or tithing on those benefits?
So if you are poor or self-employed, you may have a higher tithing obligation than someone who is salaried with health benefits. Again the poor come out on the short end of the stick.
Tithing serves two general purposes: (1) it keeps the church functioning and (2) it is a sacrifice for the giver. But what kind of a sacrifice is it if the government makes the majority of the contribution?
It looks like the law of tithing could use some fine tuning to make it more equitable for the poor and more of a real sacrifice for the wealthier givers. It is bad enough that the 1 percent get unnecessary tax benefits, but to also get a break on tithing seems particularly onerous.