Friday, December 1, 2017

Where does my LDS Tithing Money Go?

It's that time of year again, tithing settlement, when all church members are asked to meet with their Bishop and declare themselves as full tithe payers or not. I always wondered, where does my tithing money go? So I decided to do some research and answer that question as best as I can.

It has been decades since the LDS Church has opened up their books to the public, so instead I'm using information based on membership numbers and any disclosed amounts that the church spends. Church statistical numbers come from the April 2017 Statistical Report.

Total Church Membership 15, 882,417
Stakes 3,266
Missions 421
Districts 556
Wards and Branches 30,304
Full-time missionaries 70,946
Church-service missionaries 33,695
New Temples: 6
Temples in Operation: 155

Because the total church membership includes inactive members, we will assume a 25% tithe paying rate, or 3,970,604 tithe paying members.


The Church donates an average of $40 million per year in humanitarian aid (citation). Critics point out that the Church includes an hourly rate for hours of time donated in volunteer work in this figure as well, but we will not be including that in our estimate. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $10.07 to humanitarian aid. 


New Temple Costs: The Philadelphia Temple, dedicated in 2016, cost 77.5 million dollars (citation).  While temple costs vary based on location, this is a good estimate for all temples built in 2016, as the Provo City Center was also dedicated then which is estimated to be much more expensive. Six new temples for the year is approximately 465 million dollars. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $117.11 to the building of temples.

It is estimated that temples cost approximately $500,000 per year to maintain and operate. With 155 temples in operation, that equates to $77,500,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $19.52 to the maintenance and operation of temples.


According to the Deseret News, General Authorities receive a living stipend of $120,000 per year, as of 2014. While that number has most likely increased due to inflation, we will use that number in our estimates.

Apostles: 15 
Presidency of the Seventy: 7 
General Authority Seventies: 88 
Presiding Bishopric: 3 
Sunday School General Presidency: 3 
Young Men's General Presidency: 3 
***Note, we do not need to count any of the women serving in presidencies because they are not paid
Main Leadership Total: 119 
Approximate stipend: $120,000 per year 
Total yearly stipends for the main leadership: $14,280,000
Emeritus General Authorities still receive a stipend and do so for the remainder of their lives. There are currently 59 Emeritus General Authorities which totals $7,080,000

It is unknown whether the other Quorums of the Seventy receive a stipend. I like to assume that they do since they perform the same amount and level of work. There are 285 other members of the Quorums of the Seventy which equates to $34,200,000

The total amount of stipends equals $55,560,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $13.99 to General Authority Stipends. 

NOTES: There are 418 Mission Presidents and 157 Temple Presidents and their councilors who receive reimbursement for all living expenses, including furniture, clothing, food, travel for themselves and family members, housing, cars, insurance, and more. These 889 individuals are not included in the total, however, their stipend would be worth an approximate 90,000 per year which would total a yearly expense of $80,010,000, bringing the total yearly amount of stipend payments to $135,570,000. Each tithe paying member would have then contributed approximately an additional $20.15 to Mission President and Temple President reimbursements. 


The LDS Church has approximately 29,000 individuals on its payroll in Utah (citation). This number DOES NOT include employees of the for-profit ventures, or employees outside of Utah. The annual mean wage in Utah is $45,490 (citation). This puts the payroll somewhere in the range of 1,319,210,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $332.24 to the Church Employee payroll. 


Ward budgets are determined by sacrament meeting attendance and key age demographics (citation). An average US ward has a total budget of approximately $5,000, some having far more, and some having far less. Outside of the US there are wards with far more and far less, depending on local economic indicators so we will let the $5,000 stand as a fair estimate. With 30,304 ward and branches this puts the total somewhere near 151,520,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $38.16 to ward budgets. 

We are not including an estimate of Stake budgets as they vary a far greater amount based on properties owned or assigned to stakes for maintenance and operations.


Where does my tithing money go? This chart is a great reference. The most surprising element to me is how little of my personal money goes towards Humanitarian aid. It's always been very easy for me to assume that my tithes were going to charity, or at least a large portion was. This research has helped me realize that I need to be sure to fulfill my Christian obligation to donating to the poor and needy with additional charitable contributions of my time and money. "Because I have been given much I too must give."

Analysis indicates the LDS Church takes in somewhere around $7billion per year in tithing funds (citation). We can use this number to create a pie chart with our previous estimates.


  1. You need to be sure to label it Humanitarian/Welfare Aid. That is what was stated in the citation. The church does a very poor job at following Christ's directive in caring for the needy. Disgusting, really.

    1. Mormon 8:37-40 defines this "church" to a T.

  2. Are YM general presidency members paid, but YW general presidency aren't?! And RS general or primary general don't get squat, either?!! But presiding bishopric does??? So much wrong if that's the case.

  3. No paid clergy what a pack of lies I've been fed and the millions spent on temples is disgusting when there are so many needy people in the world "Very godlike indeed"

  4. The money to general authorithies doesn't come from tithing. I think the church employees also are paid from non-tithing resources.


  5. 100% of fast offering money goes to humanitarian aid. First in your area, and then if there is money left over, to anywhere else.


  6. My sister drives around a piece of shit mini van for the kids you force her to have, while you're sitting on 30 billion dollars. Bunch of crooks. J. Smith was a criminal and so is the church.

    1. AnonymousJuly 09, 2019

      Your sister chooses her life, no one forces her. Everyone had a choices in life. She could choose differently. Just like I'm missing to be nice to you

  7. 🤦 so much misinformation in one article. It's stated clearly in the Desert News article that was cited as THE source for knowing how much general authorities make that, "Authorities leave their careers when they are called into full-time church service," said Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the church. "When they do so, they focus all of their time on serving the church, and are given a living allowance. The living allowance is uniform for all General Authorities. None of the funds for this living allowance come from the tithing of church members, but instead from proceeds of the church's financial investments." Proceeds from finanvial investments. PROCEEDS FROM FINANCIAL INVESTMENTS. Your pie chart and graph are wrong. Maybe dig a little deeper next time.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Oh, and I know for a fact that many of these men are well off and would absolutely decline any such money if they felt it unnecessary for their living. I am sure there are many that have, or even have said they can live on less. Seriously, they are not cheating the members. Maybe if we focused more on what they said and less on the creeps digging around in their personal life we might actually hear something real and worthwhile - and true!

    3. AnonymousJuly 11, 2019

      The 120,000 (closer to 134k now with inflation) is only ONE part of their pay. Setting their housing, healthcare, book revenues etc, do you know what percentile just the stipend alone puts these humble men of God? They make more than 95% of the rest of America in just that. And they earn it off the collective backs of the blue collar and poverty stricken third worlds. It is NOTHING to be proud of, nor have they sacrificed ANYTHING in their careers where they would likely have retired otherwise. I don't want to hear it.

    4. Does the money not come from tithing put into financial investments? Even if their stipend doesn't come directly from tithing, where else do the proceeds from financial investments come from? It's fairly safe to assume that the large amount of 'other' money that doesn't have a direct or published use goes towards these investments and the interest and proceeds from those investments fund the leaders. I suppose I'm not outrightly saying it's wrong, but where else is the money coming from if not from tithing in the first place? Maybe I'm missing something here and I'm totally open to differing thoughts...I certainly don't claim to be an expert in this area.

  8. AnonymousJuly 12, 2019

    Ok, so even if the church is paying its clergy, based off the church's website and articles from "mormonleaks" if the church has $32 Billion in financial investments why would tithing be used for stipends and payroll? If the church has for-profit organizations and businesses, and funds are used from that for the expenses that you're questioning then what is the argument against tithing? If payroll is paid by the church's investments and not tithing, what then?

    This year I've paid 10,000 in tithing so far. It's not much different than government asking for taxes (which I've paid 15,000 so far this year) so they can construct and maintain the public works, parks, highways, and other public services that we benefit from. The church, like the government, accepts feedback on the use of the tithing funds, and they are continually looking for ways to operate the church efficiently and pay for things using the church owned business's revenue. It changes regularly as the church grows, things that were possible when the church was very small are no longer maintainable, and therefore it leads to increasing overhead costs. This is why the church establishes partnerships with the Red Cross and Catholic Charities and other organizations to try to help distribute donations more cost effectively. Many years ago we had to do things differently where local areas had to raise funds to build there own buildings. Rich areas could do this easier than the poor areas. Tithing helps to bring some equality worldwide for what the church buildings and temples get built like. The church also use to pay for janitors to clean the buildings, but have since put that responsibility back on the members who attend each building. The tithing you pay to the church also entitles you to the care of the bishops storehouse as part of the welfare program of the church. So if you were every struggling to put food on the table, you would still be counselled to pay your tithing on your paycheck (which might be for example $200) but then the church through a meeting with the bishop would arrange for the purchase of groceries for your family or to pay the hydro bill, or whatever other needs you might have in discussion with your bishop. Also if you don't have any financial increase, then your tithing is $0. You only pay tithing on your annual increase that is calculated by you. Maybe you have a good month and you pay some tithing and donations, then you have 11 bad months where you lose money despite your best efforts to earn a income, then overall you might be getting more from the church than you are giving. The welfare program helps people to improve their education, find better employment, learn to budget funds better, and invites people to give generously when they are in a position to do so.

    I know where the money I donated to the church is going. It's my money and I chose to give it freely for this purpose. I would hope that people who donate would also do so with that same attitude. Please stop complaining about how I choose to donate my money. What if I examined the charity that you donated to and produced a critical report on how they use the money to try to get you to stop donating to it. There are plenty of good charities, I encourage people to choose one that matters to them and be generous. Local SPCA, woman's shelter, disaster relief funds, etc.

    # Tithing may be used for:

    - Constructing and maintaining temples, churches, and other Church-owned buildings
    - Operating Church-education programs
    - Printing scriptures and other materials
    - Doing family history research
    - Providing welfare and humanitarian efforts
    - Doing missionary work
    - Providing Church activities for fellowshipping among ward or branch members

    1. You're a clown. At least
      $1-2B a year has been creamed off tithing for maybe 3 decades or so to build up the (quiet giant of wall street) $100b investment fund. Had many of known our money would be used to buy a shopping mall rather than find a cure for Cancer, we would never have CONSENTED. A religion that gives <2% to global problems and humanitarian is not something to be proud of, nor the fact a whistleblower had the moral need to contact the IRS.

  10. Cool timeline with all the dates, quotes and sources for tithing policy changes since 1829.

  11. Mormon 8:37-40 defines this "church" to a T.