Tithing vs. Taxes: Winner – Taxes!

Caught this interesting article in Forbes about a Mormon who hasn’t been paying his taxes.  He’s currently trying to negotiate with the IRS the rate at which he will pay his back taxes.  He wants to pay them at a pretty paltry $3,000 a month, claiming his lifestyle requires that he “survive” on $15,000 a month (I wish I could do that).  His argument is contingent on his desire to pay his tithing BEFORE he pays back his taxes.  The court basically told him:

No F*$%ing Way!  Taxes first, buddy!


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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6 Responses

  1. Seth R. says:

    I agree with the court more or less.

    Some accommodation should be made for tithing by government, but there are limits. This quote from the court, for instance:

    “Laws of general applicability that require persons to meet certain general requirements of citizenship, such as paying taxes, cannot be avoided by the fact that they indirectly make it more difficult to fulfill a purely religious duty, such as a member tithing a certain amount to his church or making a pilgrimage to a shrine in a foreign country.”

    There really should be a distinction drawn between government action that directly targets and inhibits religious practice, and government practice which is not religiously targeted that only makes things difficult for a religion as an unintended side-effect. Here it was a case of the latter.

    For instance, if the USA was at war with Saudi Arabia and had banned all travel by US citizens to the country – a person could not argue that being prevented from making an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca was unconstitutional.

  2. Dean says:

    Why does the man have a calling that requires a temple recommend when he admits that he did not remit company payroll taxes or pay his own taxes? Is that being honest in his dealings?

  3. Seth R. says:

    Maybe for the same reason the LDS Church doesn’t inquire into legal immigration status for church callings (this was in the news a year or two ago).

    Besides – even the law makes a distinction between mere non-malicious non-compliance with the law’s regulations, and actual criminal intent. The man is in non-compliance, but that doesn’t necessarily entail criminal intent.

    As the article stated, the IRS has its own rules and guidelines for claiming a hardship exemption for inability to pay. You simply have to go through the IRS’ administrative procedures.

    He was complying with those procedures. As such, he was not in violation of anything as far as the IRS is or was concerned.

    Only if he continues to fail to pay under the court ruling will the IRS escalate the situation.

    But really Dean, your question opens a real can of worms. Are we supposed to deem anyone who is unable to pay a credit card debt “dishonest in his dealings with his fellow man?”

    I would not go that far.

  4. Dean says:

    I asked the question about being honest in his dealing because to the lengthy period of non-compliance – since 1992 on his personal taxes and 2004, 2005, and 2007 on payroll taxes. That is bigger than someone who is not able to pay a credit card bill in my opinion.

  5. Seth R. says:

    You could be right. I’d want more details though.

  6. Holly says:

    Seth @5: Heavens! the man who claims to know the thoughts and motivations of people he has never met and will never meet wants more details?! The man who, when he is offered details about what other people really think and what their motivations are, refuses to change the judgments he has already made, now withholds judgment until he has more details?! What is the world coming to?!

    Seth, are you slightly less unreasonable about your whole mind-reading thing only because it’s the honesty and integrity of a tithe-paying Mormon that has been impugned, or have you actually seen the error of your rush-to-judgment ways?

    In other words, is this just you being a jerk the way you usually are, or are you maybe becoming less of a jerk?

    Fyi, Dean, I’m with you. People in general know they have to pay the IRS, and people who pay payroll REALLY know it. If the church can withhold a temple recommend over what it perceives as sexual misconduct, plenty of which isn’t even illegal and never becomes a matter of public record like an IRS judgment or lien, it should withhold a temple recommend over a flagrant violation of civic duty like paying taxes.

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