Where do the FLDS[Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] get their money--

I assume their economic output is low due to their recluency to use modern technology, yet they don’t seem to have much money problems, building up these grand temples and I think they are also expanding due to high population growth which means they will need to spend money on buying new land… so where do they get their money from?

I believe the short answer is ‘tithes’.

nm, wrong religious whackos

According to Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer, since only the first wife of each man is legally married to him, all of his subsequent “wives” are technically single moms. Then they have tons of kids, and as “single moms” they are eligible for welfare. According to the book, a remarkable percentage of Arizona’s welfare goes to the relatively small number of FLDS members.

Surprisingly, (or not), the FLDS’s distrust and hatred of government doesn’t seem to extend to taking their money.

They rationalize it by saying they are bleeding the non-believers dry. If what you say about the welfare thing is true, then why don’t they move to other Western countries, such as Australia, UK or some Nordic countries, where the welfare support for single moms are so much higher and better than that of the US? Most of Australia especially has similiar geographic and cultural condition to that of mid-west where the FLDS is from. They can just buy some ranches there and collect massive single-mom benefits every week, heck, probably even more profitable then their farming.

Isn’t it difficult to move to other countries, even ones with a generous welfare system for the native-born, if you are a single person with no job or cash hoard?


FLDS=Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For those of us who don’t know every acronym in the book of acronyms.

I didn’t read the book but I once lived (relatively) near the major FLDS settlements in Utah and Arizona. In addition to the welfare mentioned above, they really work the system to their advantage. Local Utah newspapers would often do an expose` on them and I’ve read the following (no cites so take it for what it’s worth):

  • Most land is church owned so they don’t pay property taxes.
  • New houses are intentionally left with some construction uncompleted in perpetuity. Property taxes don’t include unfinished houses.
  • The maintain crude airstrips near their towns, which generate a small amount of money from the government (FAA?).

In Carolyn Jessop’s “Escape” she mentions that many of the adult men are general contractors. They underbid on jobs and then get their minor children to do all the work. For free. They can bring a crew of 15-20 people and probably 18 or 19 of them are age 15-17. They’re not paying payroll taxes or anything and that’s legal, filed under “family business” and still within child labor laws.

I am not familiar with the laws in Utah, but the first two of these would not work in the states that I am familiar with.

There is no general property-tax exclusion for church-owned property (although many people think there is). A church itself is tax exempt, and generally church-provided housing for the religious leader is similarly exempt. If the church happens to own other land, that land is taxed.

Possibly these guys are claiming to all be ministers living in church-provided housing, but that’s something that local tax officials should be able to easily see through, and defend in court if necessary.

On unfinished houses, you don’t pay full property taxes - you just pay taxes on the land. However, you are also banned from living in unfinished houses. Once the certificate of occupancy is given, you can move in, and at that point you also pay full taxes.

There’s some homemade videos made by a kid that got out of a polygamist family, they’re pretty rough but it gives a level of insight. Also, he mentions how they don’t finish their homes so they don’t have to pay property taxes.

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

Keep in mind, in these communities, the local tax collection authority, the sheriff, the tax assessor, and the code enforcement inspector may or may not be (but probably is) also FLDS. That’s why Carolyn Jessop found it so difficult to escape – she tried a couple times, but the cop would stop her, call her husband, and take her back home. The husbands often required that the vehicles be kept with only maybe 1/2 a gallon in the tank – enough to get to the grocery store and back, but not enough to get out of town.

And soon thereafter, many if not most of the boys are cut loose from the community altogether.

Reporters have noted that both ends of town are generally kept under observation by the local police (who are a story unto themselves). Local women, who are not taken to the county seat to procure drivers’ licenses, are stopped when leaving town and their stories checked out. If they’re leaving without permission, they’re simply detained for driving without a license.

Last time I checked the major concentration of FLDS members is in Arizona and Utah, neither state being geographically nor culturally anywhere near that of the American Midwest.

The FLDS and all Mormons, including the mainstream LDS, believe in American Exceptionalism as a major point of their dogma.
According to Joseph Smith, the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri. When Jesus returns to rule the world for the millennium of peace and prosperity, when Satan will be bound, he will return to and rule from Jackson county, Missouri.

And it’s going to happen real soon, any time now…

But that doesn’t address the OP.

The only way there’s significant advantage in “working the system” is if not everyone is doing it, so that you can gain from the work of other people. If the whole town is FLDS, then they can’t all be working the system and not paying taxes, because then there would be no one to pay taxes, and the town would fall apart.

It could work in a town where a small minority is FLDS and the majority pays the taxes, but that wouldn’t account for the sheriff and tax assessor etc. all being FLDS.

See Dog’s post #10. They have construction companies with lots of something close to slave labor. That and social services is where most of the outside money comes from.

I had seen post #10. But I was commenting on a different post, which offered a different explanation.

Thank you!! I wish people would realize this when writing OPs.