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60 Minutes Australia: "Cooking the Book of Mormon"


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5 hours ago, bluebell said:

Interesting.  I think  you're the only person I've ever met that says he pays more taxes than he legally needs to for moral reasons.  But, I'm still not convinced that tax laws have a spirit.  I can see that it's different for you, but from my perspective, God's laws and tax laws are not equal.

The differences seem so obvious that I'm having trouble really understanding your views on it.

Maybe I could put it in a different perspective for you.  You obviously are very proud that the Church figured out a way of getting out of paying taxes by funneling the money through BYU.  Can I ask how many people you have passed the video on to others to show them how clever the Church has been?

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5 hours ago, Stormin' Mormon said:

Let's do some math. 

The Church has moved $1 billion out of Canada to BYU over the last 15 years, which is about $66.6 million per year.

The student body population at BYU is 31,633. If 2% of them are Canadians, then there are 633 Canadian students at the Y.

Thus, the Church is spending $105k per year in Canadian tithing dollars for each Canadian student at BYU. Is that reasonable?

We know BYU's tuition is highly subsidized. But a a school with the same ranking and similar student body population (UC-Riverside) charges $45k in tuition each year. We can therefore estimate the actual value of BYU's tuition to be about that amount with the Church kicking in an extra $39k per student.

But according to an article on urban.org, only 31% of a school's operating costs comes from tuition and other student fees. The true cost of a student's education is roughly three times the value of their tuition.

Which means, the cost of educating a BYU student is around $115k a year.

Huh. Even if some of my assumptions are off, it still puts us in the realm of the eminently reasonable.

Like I said--a huge nothingburger.

 

Edited to add: gut check lead me to the publicly available budget of the University of Arizona (close to where I live and where my daughter will likely enroll next fall). Student body population is similar to that of BYU. Annual budget is $2.1 billion. If BYU's budget is similar, then Canadian tithing dollars would represent 3% of its revenues, which is very comparable to the 2% of the student body who are from Canada. Puts us in the realm of reasonable.

Math wins

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9 minutes ago, california boy said:

Maybe I could put it in a different perspective for you.  You obviously are very proud that the Church figured out a way of getting out of paying taxes by funneling the money through BYU.  Can I ask how many people you have passed the video on to others to show them how clever the Church has been?

Bro, was it legal? Yes. There is nothing here. No one, person, church, business or otherwise has to pay any more taxes than legally obligated. If there is a way to not pay taxes everyone should find that way, since the majority of tax subsidized programs are for overcharged services and extended deadlines.

The church here is the responsible one (according to the math Stormin' Mormon laid out) and you're upset them instead of about the government who takes your money at gunpoint and usually spends it with reckless waste, fraud and abuse.

There is no spirit of the law in tax law. You pay what is owed. I trust the church to spend my donation over the government to spend what they forcefully take.

Edited by PeaceKeeper
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22 minutes ago, PeaceKeeper said:

The church is transparent with its charitable programs/funds. It is not a strict charitable organization. Therefore the "know" in all other spending, investing and savings is extended to those who have a "need to know".

Of course it’s a “straight charitable organization.” If it weren’t, you couldn’t deduct donations. And how does one determine who needs to know? As I quoted Joseph F. Smith, he seemed to believe that members ought to know how tithing money is spent.

I am not demanding anything  of the church. I have absolutely no interest in what they do with their money, as I no longer donate to them. But as a matter of good practice, I do think full transparency is best. If I were to donate, for example, to a pro-life organization, I’d want to know if they were sending 10% of their donations to Planned Parenthood. Or wouldn’t I have a need to know?

Edited by jkwilliams
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2 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Of course it’s a “straight charitable organization.” If it weren’t, you couldn’t deduct donations. And how does one determine who needs to know? As I quoted Joseph F. Smith, he seemed to believe that members ought to know how tithing money is spent.

I am not demanding anything  of the church. I have absolutely no interest in what they do with their, as I no longer donate to them. But as a matter of good practice, I do think full transparency is best. If I were to donate, for example, to a pro-life organization, I’d want to know if they were sending 10% of their donations to Planned Parenthood. Or wouldn’t I have a need to know?

So, you're saying all donations to the church are for charitable purposes? Church buildings, temples, upkeep, preparations are charitable things? Serious question so we can be speaking the same language.

Just because a church engages in charitable work does not mean it's strictly a charitable organization. As a strictly religious organization it qualifies. "Qualified organizations include nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose, or that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals. You will find descriptions of these organizations under Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions. Schedule A (Form 1040) required.(Publication 526 (2021), Charitable Contributions | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov) "

Besides that, the vast VAST amount of people do not even deduct their contributions because the vast VAST do not itemize their taxes. 

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1 hour ago, california boy said:

Maybe I could put it in a different perspective for you.  You obviously are very proud that the Church figured out a way of getting out of paying taxes by funneling the money through BYU.  Can I ask how many people you have passed the video on to others to show them how clever the Church has been?

First, I’m not proud or upset. I’m “why is this a thing?”.

Second, what video are you referring to?  The really poorly made one pushing an obvious bias or some other one?

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45 minutes ago, PeaceKeeper said:

So, you're saying all donations to the church are for charitable purposes? Church buildings, temples, upkeep, preparations are charitable things? Serious question so we can be speaking the same language.

Just because a church engages in charitable work does not mean it's strictly a charitable organization. As a strictly religious organization it qualifies. "Qualified organizations include nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose, or that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals. You will find descriptions of these organizations under Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions. Schedule A (Form 1040) required.(Publication 526 (2021), Charitable Contributions | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov) "

Besides that, the vast VAST amount of people do not even deduct their contributions because the vast VAST do not itemize their taxes. 

I’m not interested in arguing over the definition of a charity. It’s not really my church anymore, so it’s not worth expending any effort. 

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if you go to the Fifth Estate FB page you'll find no comments. Why? NOBODY CARES!!!!!!!!!! the CRA, the IRS said it's legal so what is the issue? Why should the church be punished for following the law? should the church break the law? 

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31 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I’m not interested in arguing over the definition of a charity. It’s not really my church anymore, so it’s not worth expending any effort. 

My guy, what I quoted is the literal definition for "Qualified Organizations" by the US tax enforcement arm. I even gave you the section of law if you're interested in educating yourself. It's not an argument. It just is.

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My understanding in Australia, tithing is not considered tax deductible. Members, however, are paying tithing and the church is sending it through a different charity that is tax deductible.  Does this sound correct? Does this sound like being honest with fellow men?

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7 minutes ago, 2BizE said:

My understanding in Australia, tithing is not considered tax deductible. Members, however, are paying tithing and the church is sending it through a different charity that is tax deductible.  Does this sound correct? Does this sound like being honest with fellow men?

Need more information.

1. Is it legal?

2. Is the charity owned by the church?

3. If not, is the church donating to the charity without any of the money going back to the church?

4. If any of this is the case, is it legal?

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31 minutes ago, PeaceKeeper said:

My guy, what I quoted is the literal definition for "Qualified Organizations" by the US tax enforcement arm. I even gave you the section of law if you're interested in educating yourself. It's not an argument. It just is.

Then, thank you for educating me. I still don’t understand the opposition to financial transparency, but then it’s not of interest to me.

Edited by jkwilliams
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On 10/27/2022 at 5:26 PM, smac97 said:

No mention of this guy getting all hot and bothered by Canadian dollars being donated to these institutions, which dollars also "{don't} do anything to alleviate the financial strain of provincial and federal governments in Canada."

The article said BYU got more than all the Ivy League Schools combined, yet your list has the Ivy schools getting substantially more.  Where did you get your list?

I was curious what the number of Canadians went to these schools and found this list:

https://prepskills.com/ivy-league-schools-what-canadian-students-need/
 

I was going to do what Stormin did, but can’t find donation numbers….any Canadians know how to track these down?  There is also the problem that in the list above some are all international students, so I am going to just do the two that identify Canadians only, Penn (27) and Brown (34j.  Brown is 1.2% and Penn is .7% of the student body and extrapolate.  Let’s assume the IL schools run at about 1% accepted Canadians or a total of 240 students per year…BYU has almost 6 times the number of Canadian students going to its schools, so the fact that it has about the same amount donated to it as the Ivy League schools is not the red flag it is being promoted as. Ivy League schools are getting much more proportionally from Canada while benefiting far fewer Canadians.

PS:  Not sure my math is right though…since 240 were accepted per year that might mean around 960 for a four year college.  Add in grad students and you still have less than BYU’s total numbers.  So at the very least, BYU is getting comparable to IL schools and possibly much less per student.  Added:  I checked Penn and it had 101 Canadians in 2020 and Brown is 129, so multiplying by 4 looks about right, gives a slightly higher number for a conservative comparison. 

Edited by Calm
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2 hours ago, PeaceKeeper said:

Need more information.

1. Is it legal?

2. Is the charity owned by the church?

3. If not, is the church donating to the charity without any of the money going back to the church?

4. If any of this is the case, is it legal?

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

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3 hours ago, PeaceKeeper said:

Need more information.

1. Is it legal?

2. Is the charity owned by the church?

 

Yes to both of those.

In fact, as tithing used to be only 75% tax deductible here, I would hazard a guess that the government was actually involved in discussions as to what would be required to allow it to be 100% deductible.

3 hours ago, 2BizE said:

My understanding in Australia, tithing is not considered tax deductible.

"Tithing" though is a religious concept. It's ultimately just a donation to an organisation. When we get our end of year donation receipt for tax purposes, it has a single line on it with tithing, fast offering, humanitarian aid, etc. combined. We don't declare each type individually to the Australian Tax Office, it's done at an organisation level. The church gets one line, a cancer charity gets a different line, a different charity gets a different line etc.

It's what that organisation does with the specific donation that matters in relation to tax deductibility. (see https://www.acnc.gov.au/tools/factsheets/deductible-gift-recipients-and-acnc )

Edited by JustAnAustralian
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On 10/27/2022 at 4:26 PM, smac97 said:

This isn't the only effort.  Seems like someone is trying to stir the pot in Canada as well: Mormon Church in Canada moved $1B out of the country tax free — and it's legal

Donations to educational institutions are generally considered charitable gifts, akin to donating to a church, a soup kitchen, an clean water NGO, whatever.

You wouldn't know that given the Oh-My-Stars-and-Garters! tone of the article.

The Fifth Estate is an investigative documentary series that airs in Canada.

They won't be the first outfit to try to rake some muck about the Church, without much to show for it in the end.  I suspect that is how this story will end up.

Oh.  It's legal.  So the point of the article is . . . what?

Gotta love how this is framed.  Imagine them saying something like "the money sent to The Little Sisters of Mercy Soup Kitchen costs other Canadian taxpayers anywhere between 16 to 28 cents for every dollar donated."  Where are the pitchforks?!

The Church is complying with Canadian law, with nary a hint that it is coloring outside the lines.  And yet these guys still ran the story.

Okay.  How is this newsworthy?

"Jaclyn Foster" sounded familiar.  Sure enough, she's the same charming person we discussed back in 2019:

Man.  I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice... ;) 

Also, I can't help but notice that Jaclyn is whinging about donations to BYU, but only after having been the beneficiary of a subsidized education at BYU.

The LDS Church asks all members to tithe, not just those with TRs.

He was not aware that the "among other things" includes subsidizing educational institutions?

Oh, brother.  The Church is doing nothing of the sort.  It is complying with the law.  It is using tithes for their lawful and intended purposes, which include subsidizing education.

By this fellow's reasoning, every dollar not taxed by the government of Canada is "taking away governments' ability to fund health care, the ability to fund education, the ability to provide other essential services."  So he must also object to, say, Canadians donating to other schools?  Or to NGOs and other nonprofits?  

Or is this one of those "it's only wrong when the Latter-day Saints and their Church do it" kind of things?

As for the "fill the coffers in Salt Lake" bit, two useful resources:

Nobody is getting rich from "the coffers in Salt Lake."

So he's okay with donations to educational institutions, but only if they are in Canada?

Meanwhile, the article also discusses various other American schools who have received donations from Canadians, including Harvard (endowment: $53 billion), Stanford (endowment: $37 billion), Brown (endowment: $7 billion), Columbia (endowment: $14 billion), Cornell (endowment: $10 billion), Dartmouth (endowment: $8 billion), Princeton (endowment: $37 billion), Pennsylvania (endowment: $20 billion), Yale (endowment: $42 billion), Berkeley (endowment: $6.8 billion), Loma Linda University ($461 million), Yeshiva University (endowment: $814 million).

No mention of this guy getting all hot and bothered by Canadian dollars being donated to these institutions, which dollars also "{don't} do anything to alleviate the financial strain of provincial and federal governments in Canada."

Nice and vague, this.  

Here's a list of financial reports from LDS Canada.  The "expenses" shown for 2016 are "Charitable program{s}" (50%) and "Gifts to other registered charities and qualified donees" (50%).  It has 160 full-time and 122 part-time employees.  Compensation for employees ranges from $80,000.00 to $160,000.00.

Boy, they're really stretching to fit this aside into the story.

If and when Jaclyn repays the subsidized portion of her BYU tuition, I'll give her pronouncements some consideration.  Until then...

Again, not much dirt here.

Here's the part that may tie in to the article in the OP about Australia:

Yes, it is.

And so far there is no indication - apart from Mr. Leigh's insinuation - that the Church is not "playing by the rules."

There is also no indication of an actual "investigation" of the Church, just "calls" for one.  So how is this newsworthy?

What a boneheaded remark this is.  A lawful charitable donation is, by law, not subject to "appropriate tax payments."

And again, there is no indication that the Church is not complying with "Australia charities and tax rules."  So why is this newsworthy?

LOL.  Lars is so eager to disparage the Church that he has to resort to characterize the Church's stock portfolio as involving "fossil fuel-burning companies."  Oh, the depravity!

Meanwhile, does Lars drive a car?  Does he heat his home with natural gas?  Do his house, household items, car, clothes, etc. include any plastics or other oil-derived materials (or do their production and distribution involve the use of fossil fuels)?  Does he eat buy and eat food in plastic packaging?  Is any of that food planted, grown, harvested, and transported to him using fossil fuels?  Does he transact with any businesses which use fossil fuels?  

Just trying to figure out the rules, Lars.  Is working with "fossil fuel-burning companies" bad when you do it, too?  Or again, is this one of those "it's only wrong when the Latter-day Saints and their Church do it" kind of things?

"Didn't want to confirm or deny."

Yeesh.

Sounds like pretty mundane stuff.  So why is this newsworthy?

Publicly disparaging the Church for doing nothing unusual or unlawful is hunky dory, I guess.

He'll need to work a lot harder if he wants to lose his membership in the Church, which these days is a frustratingly patient and tolerant lot (frustrating, that is, for those folks for who value their membership so little that losing it is a badge of pride).

Thanks,

-Smac

Simply ridiculous that the author doesn't even know the difference between a tax deduction and a credit, nor does he understand charitable giving and what can be done with those funds - all here is perfectly legal.

I am a retired financial planner and real estate broker who showed investors how to do charitable remainder trusts to get out of falling RE markets.  Not a lawyer, but never sued either! 

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The Australian Taxation Office would have to be completely clueless if it didn’t notice the massive increase in 2014/2015 of donations to LDS Charities Australia ( https://news-nz.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/how-charitable-donations-in-australiaare-helping-people-around-the-world ).  Yet it apparently has done nothing for 7 years. 
 

Does the ATO have a reputation for twiddling its thumbs while letting hundreds of millions slip through its hands?  For being blind?  Or maybe for being soft on churches?

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13 hours ago, JustAnAustralian said:

The charity register has been receiving the financials too and clearly aren't concerned enough to do anything https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/charities/357ae4a8-38af-e811-a962-000d3ad24a0d/documents/ (this is the organisation that receives our tithes).

According to the link you provided earlier, out of $100 million, $70 million goes to LDS Charities Australia, $15 million to the building and fast offering funds and $15 million got saved.  It doesn’t list any money coming back to the Australian church itself from SLC, rather SL pays into the same LDS Charities Australia that the Trust does. So I am wondering if the global Church supports the local one at all or if the global Church instead covers the foreign costs that occur because the local Church is really part of the global one, like the missionary fund, manufacturing and shipping costs if they don’t publish manuals, etc in Australia, but ship them in (that seems unlikely though because transportation costs would be high).

Or maybe it is a misleading graphic.

If Australian Saints only need $15 million or 15% for the day to day expenses (actually less since that includes Fast Offerings which seems like it would qualify for the definition of charity, but might be seen as a personal service similar to insurance perhaps?), then are they really benefitting that much by not paying taxes on the 25% (serious question as I don’t have a clue what that would amount to if you pulled out the personal service aspect and paid taxes only on that)?

I can see why some take issue if there are no taxes paid on the part of the 15% that is day to day expense, but it seems like the difference actually amounts to a lot less than described from their own info. 
 

edited to make more sense hopefully, taxes are definitely not one of my strong suits

Edited by Calm
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