Tithes: Net or Gross?

In another thread, this came up:

Not wanting to hijack that thread, I’ve started a new one.

Let me summarize the issue. Christians have a duty to give charitable donations. A traditional amount is a tithe, i.e. 10%. The question then arises, 10% of what? The two obvious choices are 10% of total earnings (the gross), or 10% of actual profit (the net).

A related issue is whether all charitable donations (workplace paycheck donations, old clothing donations, community volunteering, etc) in addition to direct-to-church offerings should count toward fulfulling a tithe.

My own opinion is that the specific amount isn’t particularly important. I try to give as much as I feel financially comfortable giving. So I guess I lean towards net rather than gross. And I count all charitable givings, not just what goes to a church.

(I started this thinking in Christian terms, but I know Jews and Musliims have similar customs. Their perspectives would be interesting as well.)

And this should be in Great Debates…

Can I have a Mod move it please?

If one is giving away what one no longer wants or needs,(clothing, furniture, etc) it counts for the IRS, but, IMHO, not for a tithe. If one buys those same items with the idea to give them to an organization that distributes them to those who need them, then I feel it would count towards the tithe.

And tithe, to me, means, 10% of the gross. I count all donations as part of that 10%, not just what I give to my church.

I’m not required by my church to tithe, but I’m glad I can.

I have been asked this question as head of my stewardship committee at church. The correct answer is “whatever the Lord leads you to do”.

I tithe on my net, on the theory that taxes and so forth get taken out of my check before I get it, and thus I never get control over that amount. I do receive the net, so I am “rendering unto Caesar” as well as to God. Plus a good deal of government spending goes to semi-charitable stuff anyway.

And I also like to remind people that tithing time is as valid as money - sometimes more so.

Just keep in mind the story of the widow’s mite.

Tithing is a good thing. “Well done, you good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over little; I will make you steward over much. Come and share in your master’s happiness!” - Matthew 25:21


Moderator’s Note: Sure, I’ll move it… For a small fee, of course, say 10%…
Moving thread from Cafe Society to Great Debates.

<Reverend Lovejoy, paraphrased>
Donations were sparse, so we’re going to be passing the collection plate around a second time. Remember, tithe is ten percent of gross, not net. Don’t force us to audit!

Seriously though, while IANAMormon I’ve always tithed 10% of gross income.

When I was young and stuck up, I was sure it was on the gross. I remember being pretty scornful of the idea of tithing on the net.

I have no idea what I was thinking. Literally. I can not remember my scintillating argument for tithing on the net being a dodge. That shows how powerful an arguement it was, I guess.

I think Shodan’s answer is the most correct. Personally, I’ve decided that the Lord didn’t increase my wealth with the amount taken in taxes. That’s no a failing on His part, it’s just a fact. I feel pretty comfortable with that decision.

For LDS members, that is determined by the individual member for him or herself. Church policy specifically states that no one in the Church has any authority to interpret this revelation for another person. It is up to the individual to declare whether they are paying a full tithe or not.

As Abby says, for Mormons it’s a personal issue. AFAIK, some pay gross, some pay net, and it’s really nobody else’s business what someone decides to do. It’s between you and the Lord, same as a bunch of other stuff.

Technically Christians are supposed to give as the Spirit tells them to give, there’s no rule that says we to “tithe.” I daresay it’s harder for most Christians to actually be led by the Spirit with their giving, and it’s easier to give a flat 10%. The Spirit will challenge you, surprise you, ask you for offerings that hurt your flesh. 10% of your gross with every paycheck is a constant and not as difficult.

But since we’re talking about the tithe, the book makes it clear it’s the gross.

6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.
"But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’
7 "You place defiled food on my altar.
"But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’
“By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. 8 When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.(Malachi 1:6-8)

In other words, you’ll pay the government whatever they TELL you to pay them, and you’ll do it by April 15th, and chances are you’re overall giving a good 20 or 30% of your income. But now when it comes to giving to God, you want to cut a deal and give Him what you want Him to have, not what He’s asked for. Your gross income is what you report when you go to get a car loan, buy a house, do your taxes, etc., and yet people get “confused” when it comes to giving God His share. Which is funny to me because Uncle Sam wastes your money. God promises to give it back pressed down, shaken together and running over and bless your descendants to the 4th generation, all for the low low price of 10%. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

He wants 10%, all of it, thus why He said “bring the whole tithe.” Not half, not 10% of whatever you had left over after you reverenced the government, your bank, your 401k, etc.

Some people just flat don’t know this, and so if they haven’t been taught I don’t think God holds it against them. But if you are going to commit to tithing regularly, hell or high water, it’s 10% of the gross.

I tithe at least on the net absent some emergency expenditures (there is a Biblical principle that exempts “what the worms & locusts have eaten” from tithes- I don’t think a necessary emergency car or house repair is far from that). I have the goal of tithing on the gross. Sometimes I make it S

One rather pithy answer to the OP- “depends on if you want God to give you a net or gross blessing.”

I like Friar Ted’s “worms and locusts” approach to taxes, but I have a question for those who tithe on the net - if you get a tax refund, do you tithe from it as well?

That’s a decent point, and to be consistent, you would have to tithe from the refund too.

I still don’t see where he’s made a definitive statement on this. Mind you, I’m not being snotty, and I’m all for clear thinking, but I also have a problem with people putting words in God’s mouth. I don’t see that your Bible quote shows the argument for the gross. The quoted passage is about giving the Lord something that’s worth less than its purported value. The question of taxes isn’t brought up.

Well, I wouldn’t say I’m confused. I can easily see people being led to tithe on the gross. I can also see very easily the argument that my taxes never even got in my hand. Not only did I have to pay them, they were never paid to me in any real sense at all, but got directly withheld by the government.

Yes, but that argument could then be extended to saying that any greater amount is more Godly than any lesser amount. Now, I’ve read stories of people being led to do any manner of crazy things, and I’m on record as being down with the Lord being able to tell anyone to do pretty much anything. I mean, read Ezekiel sometime. That was some wack stuff.

I didn’t put in any of the investments you mentioned. I’m just looking for an admission that it is very arguable that your house was not increased by the amount held out for taxes.

Well, that’s the kind of dogmatic statemtent I expect to see backed up by something rock solid from the Bible. I haven’t seen it yet. I mean, even abortion has a lot more solid quotes and principals behind it than this one.

(And if anyone wants to go off on abortion, start a new thread)

I can also see very easily the argument that my taxes never even got in my hand. Not only did I have to pay them, they were never paid to me in any real sense at all, but got directly withheld by the government.

I see your side of it, because I thought the same thing for years.

Those who actually pay taxes here in the US have a hard time doing it (at least some of them). Instead of getting slammed every April, they have their employer withhold the most taxes possible from their paycheck year-round. The result is they have a more manageable fee to pay on tax day than they otherwise would.

They never “see” the taxes withheld, true, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t earn that money.

If I hire you and pay you $10 an hour to make widgets, you’re gonna make $400 a week at my factory. Let’s pretend you only SEE $300 of that, though, after taxes.

Does that mean you’re actually getting paid $7.50 an hour? No. You’re getting paid $10 an hour, so why would you want to tithe off of leftovers?

I have to go for now but later I’ll try to post where the book says 10%. (The word “tithe” means “tenth” so I’m not sure why I have to do this, but I’ll look it up anyway.)

My church teaches tithing on the gross; dunno how many people actually do that though. In the UK, registered charities can reclaim the income tax on donations, so the giver may only need to tithe net.

Here it is 9% of your income tax (which is higher than in the US) with certain deductions per child, but it is a real tax. Nobody will ask you and it is automatically collected from all members of certain denominations, without exceptions.

As a consequence the collect is mostly symbolic.

(I’m a Roman Catholic)

When I served on the Stewardship Committee of my church, we side-stepped the whole gross or net issue, by encouraging people to pledge to give 10% more than what they gave last year. The pledge drive worked quite well.

One family I know, instead of tithing on their income, tithe on their consumption. They keep receipts of everything they spend, and at the end of each month make donations equal to 10% of their outgo. An interesting variation.

Re-reading likely chapters (Lev 27, Num 18, Deut 12,14, Mal 3), I can see no obvious biblical support for either tithing the net or the gross. No mention of how taxes or other external obligations affect tithing. There seems to be an implicit assumption that no other taxes are being paid at all. (That’s just my interpretation, since it seems like the tithes are the taxes.)

What happens if you don’t tithe? What happens if you aren’t happy with the way the church is spending your money? For instance, they are spending too much on remodeling the church instead of charitable acts towards the community?

Could you explain this a bit more? It sounds like you’re saying the government collects your religious tithe along with your income tax, which sounds sort of :eek: :eek: :eek: - I must be reading it wrong.