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rated:
OP in this thread created a pretty reasonable FWF thread asking "How much are your monthly fixed expenses?" and laying out his family's monthly expenses. Those expenses included a rather sizable tithe, which in true I-want-to-buy-a-new-car/you-should-definitely-buy-a-used-crown-vic FWF fashion derailed the topic in many replies. Mine included. I propose we keep that thread on topic for OP's sake, and move the tithe chatter over here. I actually searched to see if there were previous FWF threads on tithing and came up with little. Perhaps this could be a fun thread to actually discuss tithing from a personal finance POV.

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<--- Another FWFer who "tithes"

I give about 10% take home pay to my church's general fund, another couple bucks a week t... (more)

catanpirate (Oct. 22, 2016 @ 8:01p) |

Since the money is deductible -which makes it BEFORE taxes as a charitable deduction I can see their point.  

RedWolfe01 (Oct. 24, 2016 @ 11:05a) |

In advaita vedanta, from ancient India, once you realize yourself, YOU are god, or there is only one god, you just conne... (more)

mfclover (Nov. 28, 2016 @ 2:15p) |

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rated:
Here was my original post from that thread, which I have deleted:
BingBlangBlaow said:   If OP wants to tithe, I don't think there is anything wrong with that, assuming he's thought it over well with his wife.

But can we stop referring to it as charity? I was at the Vatican last year. It's insane how rich that place is. I've also been in this church before. It's like a stadium. That picture looks like a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert.

For what it's worth I've also donated over 10% of my time this year in Nepal and other places volunteering with disaster recovery work.

See also: megachurch

  

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And the LDS "elders" are also mega rich. Ridiculous scam.

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To try to start this off with something productive, I'm going to post about something that I'm pretty sure I brought up in a thread before where OP was tithing, but also posting for advice during hard times but didn't want to stop tithing.

I'm all about strategic tax planning in all forms.

First, some basics:
Tithing is considered a charitable contribution and can be included as an itemized deduction.
The total of a tithing (and all charitable contributions) deduction is limited to 50% of your AGI for the year.

How can we maximize the tax benefit of tithing? Well, first, you have to itemize, so the total amount of your tithing and any other charitable contributions and other itemized deductions has to be greater than the standard deduction, which is $6,300 for single taxpayers in 2016. And even then, the first $6,300 of your itemized deductions isn't really generating a tax savings, as you would have otherwise been able to take the standard deductions.

So, for our first scenario, let's assume a single taxpayer with a $63,000 salary and no other itemized deductions. In this scenario, a "normal" tithe would not have any (federal at least) tax advantage. But you were going to tithe anyway, so you just continue on and everyone is happy.

I honestly don't have any idea how the bible actually describes tithing, but let's get philosophical: what even is income? At what frequency is one paid? Hourly? Weekly? Monthly? Annually? Bi-annually? Let's assume the person in the example decides he isn't paid $63,000 per year, but $126,000 every two years. And rather than dropping that coin in the collection bucket at church every week, he decides he will write a $12,600 check every two years just before the annual Christmas Midnight Mass. Well what hath our hero done here? In even years, he can take the standard deduction of $6,300, and in odd years*, he can itemize his deduction and have a significant tax saving.

Why stop there? Tithe $18,900 every 3 years? Only if you have no backbone. At a 10% tithe and 50% charitable contribution limitation, maximize that bad boy out and tithe every five years. You may have to agonize over the scorn shone your way by the villagers each Sunday morning morning as you reluctantly pass the plate on by. People notice. They talk. Their contempt building up week after week. You overhear talk of the elders wanting to shun you. Until that one fateful Christmas Eve. A very Merry Christmas Eve indeed. He has come. Our hero pens a $31,500 check and pays for the desperately needed new schoolhouse out back. The villagers cheer! Kids giggle. A Christmas Miracle. Funded in part by Uncle Sam. We did it.

Stay tuned.

*I decided this would be done in odd years, because I still find the whole thing rather odd.

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Uh, what?!

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I think it's kind of interesting that in my recollection of many years' worth of fatwallet threads that I've read, I think this is the first time I've noticed that "tithing" has been mentioned as a category in a monthly outgoings list.

However, I often don't click on threads about the topic "help me steamline my monthly budget" etc. so maybe it is often mentioned in the threads that I don't read. And maybe some people put "charity donation" and I don't consider what that might consist of.

There were a number of thoughts about this subject that were already expressed in the original thread, and probably those folks won't take the time to duplicate their comments here in this thread.
I have a feeling that most active contributors who were going to say something about the topic have already said it in that thread, but certainly as a subject on its own merits, having a standalone thread in FW is appropriate.

====
One odd fact about tithing that I dimly recall hearing about 30 years ago was told to me by an American family I knew who were working at an American company in Germany, and they lived in a particular German state where, if I am remembering correctly, the residents had to tell the govt. as a part of their tax arrangements which religion/denomination they were affiliated with, and then whichever one it was, I think the govt said that they had to pay a specific portion from their income to the national organization for that religion/denomination.

I may not have the details right, and this practice might have changed in recent years, but I know that it was a pretty unusual setup and we were surprised by it (no separation of church and state, I guess!)

The family in question had some problems with it -- for one thing, the husband and wife were members of different religions/denominations but there was some kind of issue about accurately splitting up the tithing according to the various denominational memberships of the 2 adults and of their kids,
and for another thing, they wanted to give their tithe to their usual American churches back home, and not to the German organization for their religions/denominations, but would have had to have given double in that case, since the German contribution was apparently required of them.

I asked what happened if a person was an atheist, and I think they said that the govt. took the same amt. of money, but gave it to an array of charities.

Am I remembering this incorrectly? Does anyone know if this is the way tithing is enforced by the government in certain regions of Europe?

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It's in Switzerland.

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oppidum said:   I think it's kind of interesting that in my recollection of many years' worth of fatwallet threads that I've read, I think this is the first time I've noticed that "tithing" has been mentioned as a category in a monthly outgoings list.

However, I often don't click on threads about the topic "help me steamline my monthly budget" etc. so maybe it is often mentioned in the threads that I don't read. And maybe some people put "charity donation" and I don't consider what that might consist of.


I reàd all the posts about monthly budgets. Tithing derails probavly..... 10 or so per year on average.

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Whatever happened to "Pay your bills, deadbeat"?
Many believe that 10% of your income belongs to a supreme being who created humanity and the planet it lives on.
It's not for me to judge or disparage that belief.

The tither may have a responsibility to put their 10% where it will be used to work God's Will, and not enrich some charlatan pretending to be a man of the cloth, but the existence of charlatans does not invalidate the original concept.

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taxmantoo said:   Whatever happened to "Pay your bills, deadbeat"?
Many believe that 10% of your income belongs to a supreme being who created humanity and the planet it lives on.
It's not for me to judge or disparage that belief.

The tither may have a responsibility to put their 10% where it will be used to work God's Will, and not enrich some charlatan pretending to be a man of the cloth, but the existence of charlatans does not invalidate the original concept.


Tithing is not a bill that must be paid in order to keep food on the table or keep the water running. Also a supreme being can't file delinquency with CRAs. PYBD does not apply to moral choices it applies to bills you have signed for and are legally responsible for.

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tithe IOUs then leave the accumulated balance in your will?

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imbatman said:   
oppidum said:   I think it's kind of interesting that in my recollection of many years' worth of fatwallet threads that I've read, I think this is the first time I've noticed that "tithing" has been mentioned as a category in a monthly outgoings list.

However, I often don't click on threads about the topic "help me steamline my monthly budget" etc. so maybe it is often mentioned in the threads that I don't read. And maybe some people put "charity donation" and I don't consider what that might consist of.


 

I reàd all the posts about monthly budgets. Tithing derails probavly..... 10 or so per year on average.

  10%, right? 10. percent. OK.

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?huh?

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taxmantoo said:   Many believe that 10% of your income belongs to a supreme being who created humanity and the planet it lives on.
It's not for me to judge or disparage that belief.


  Actually, when such beliefs cause beheadings or other such barbaric acts in the name of said deity, maybe it should. Especially when the cause of much of the strife and turmoil around world is caused by a belief in some unknown or imagined deity.

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A God that needs your cash. Hmmmm, smells like a human trick to me.

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imbatman said:   ?huh?
  Just a bad joke. You said 10 thread per year. I pretended to be asking if you meant 10% per year. Like we were "tithing" derailing threads. Lack of sleep and all.

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BingBlangBlaow said:   
imbatman said:   ?huh?
  Just a bad joke. You said 10 thread per year. I pretended to be asking if you meant 10% per year. Like we were "tithing" derailing threads. Lack of sleep and all.

  goto bed

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Scorn minimizing, tax savings maximizing approach (related to BlingBlangBlaow's approach): donate the entirety of the odd number year's amount on Jan 1 of the following even year. Give regularly throughout the even year. Repeat. That way, one is only "delinquent" half the time.

Note: much (if any) benefit from this approach is predicated on several things: other itemized deductions and income levels/tax brackets (not necessarily the same thing, but pretty linked). Personally, I did see pretty significant savings one year from taking this approach with my charitable donations. Other years, it was much less relevant or non-existant. Namely, when renting my house, this makes a difference for me, but when paying a mortgage, it has almost no effect.

Other benefit to the occasionally pooled approach: hitting MS requirements for CC signup bonuses. Not that I have ever done anything like that....

rated:
Tithing... a tax imposed by the church... Everyone needs your money more than you, just ask your church and government... They know how to spend money better than any business. Just go out and help the needy it will be worth more than any cash you can give to the church.

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letsspendlotsofmoney said:    Just go out and help the needy it will be worth more than any cash you can give to the church.
  but you don't get a tax deduction when you give directly to the needy 

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I'm sure everyone would bring the strictly financial aspect of it in here. So I wanted to mention something of a wider cultural context here.

Tithing/Zakat/Tzedakah have a very positive connotation in Abrahamic religions, i.e. the there-is-only-one-god-and-our-version-of-it-is-what-you-should-obey religions. That positive connotation, however, is not universal.

Muslim rulers, for example, have been known to use Zakat and it's counterpart - Jiziya - as tools of oppression over the common people.

Much of the Tithing money goes toward missionary activities, which again is viewed widely positively in the Abrahamic religious context - but not universally. Think about it - our version is the only true way - is pretty unique to the desert religions. In Japan, you can go to a Buddhist shrine in the morning and a Shinto temple in the evening and nobody would call you heretic for it. So the missionary version of "my religion is superior to yours and hence you should convert" is considered an abhorrent mindset in much of the world. I know for a fact that this is how missionary activity if viewed in India and Japan by people who are not Christians and would hazard a guess that China should be similar since the cultural context is very similar.

So while a tithing might evoke the image of a pious, honest and good individual in much of the western world - it many cultures/places it may be associated with a dishonest individual who is trying to buy his way to heaven.

Why is this cultural sensitivity important in a finance forum? Well, being aware of it will help you avoid missteps if you are ever working with an international team/client/supplier/whatever.

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Had to Google what tithing is. Then I saw this on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxlS79Q3EXk




Also, the last time I went to the outlet mall all of the monks had flagship smartphones, Gucci clothing, etc.

I'm glad I'm atheist.

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I don't tithe, but I do drop an amount in the plate every couple of weekends which probably equals $600 or so which is considerably less than 10%. I see it as doing my part to pay the priest, keep the heat and lights on. Basically to pay for my "use" of the facilities. I really changed my mind on giving when the church changed its method of requesting funds. It almost feels like they are locking the doors and shaking you down with the guilt trip and public notion of filling out the donation card while sitting in church next to all of your neighbors. Neighbors who see who returns the form and you are expected to keep up with everyone else who is surely giving all they can. That and my parish is building a new church with is over the top extravagant at a time when our church leader is decrying large, ornate structures since funds should be going to helping the poor and needy.

I give funds that could go to the church to directly to charities to carry out work I directly support and "know" how the funds will be spent (at least in theory and checking ratings charity navigator, etc.)

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matrix5k said:   Had to Google what tithing is. Then I saw this on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxlS79Q3EXk


 

Also, the last time I went to the outlet mall all of the monks had flagship smartphones, Gucci clothing, etc.

I'm glad I'm atheist.

  It is very possible the monks did not purchase those items. Monks often receive donations of things. In some parts of the world, it is not uncommon to see a person selling buckets filled with random things, socks, flashlight, notebooks, etc, that you purchase and give to the monks.

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If you attend church (and I don't) you should be giving something. Not saying it's 10%, but there are many legit expenses that need to be paid.

On the other hand, I always laugh when driving in the country. Run down shacks everywhere, but each town always has a beautiful church. Which get's used once or twice a week.

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oppidum said:   
One odd fact about tithing that I dimly recall hearing about 30 years ago was told to me by an American family I knew who were working at an American company in Germany, and they lived in a particular German state where, if I am remembering correctly, the residents had to tell the govt. as a part of their tax arrangements which religion/denomination they were affiliated with, and then whichever one it was, I think the govt said that they had to pay a specific portion from their income to the national organization for that religion/denomination.

I may not have the details right, and this practice might have changed in recent years, but I know that it was a pretty unusual setup and we were surprised by it (no separation of church and state, I guess!)

The family in question had some problems with it -- for one thing, the husband and wife were members of different religions/denominations but there was some kind of issue about accurately splitting up the tithing according to the various denominational memberships of the 2 adults and of their kids,
and for another thing, they wanted to give their tithe to their usual American churches back home, and not to the German organization for their religions/denominations, but would have had to have given double in that case, since the German contribution was apparently required of them.

I asked what happened if a person was an atheist, and I think they said that the govt. took the same amt. of money, but gave it to an array of charities.

Am I remembering this incorrectly? Does anyone know if this is the way tithing is enforced by the government in certain regions of Europe?

   I learned something today:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_tax#Germany

rated:
There are many legitimate non-religious reasons to tithe. Tax benefits, etc.
Another one I see occasionally is in bankruptcy. A chapter 13 plan allows a person to tithe. If you are part of a small church that generously gives back to its parishioners... you can see where I'm going with this. Another reason to tithe before bankruptcy/in bankruptcy is this: Why give to the trustee when you could instead give to a charity that you know will do some good with it? (You're going to lose it anyhow.)

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Tithing is always going to be controversial. Why do budget posters include it at all? It's not negotiable and going to be very distracting. Just post income as (actual * .9) and expenses as everything but tithing, and you'll get full attention on things that you'd actually consider changing.

It looks like the other thread OP has scrubbed the first post like this now.

rated:
I am the OP in the other thread.  Kudos to BingBlangBlaow for starting this thread to salvage my legitimate question in the other one.

For the religions that follow the Bible, there is a command (several instances of the same command) to give 10% of everything to God.  Typically that means give to the church, since the church is generally seen as God's instrument to spread the message.  The problem - as many of you have pointed out - is that the church has taken on a reputation as a money-grubbing, finance-sucking machine from the brainwashed masses that know nothing else but to give all they have and suffer in the name of Jesus Christ.  There are a lot of people like this.  They're already living just above poverty and their pastor finds a way to turn their pockets inside out to scrape whatever pennies they have left. Usually it's either in the form of a guilt-trip message ("the church will die without your money", "God will bless you even more") or a threat ("you'll burn in hell!").  Those are scams and it's ashamed that people get away with it.  To add insult to injury, these pastors appear to be living the high life at your expense.

But not all churches are pastors are like this.  Believe it or not, there are actually churches out there that are led by people with integrity and truly care for their communities.  They focus on another message in the Bible that says "feed the hungry" and similar social acts.  But even here, there's a line that gets abused.  Nothing gets me more ticked off when I see some church hand out camping gear to homeless people in the creek by my house.  All they do is enable continued prostitution, drug use, and attract more homeless people.  These type of "charitable" acts do nothing to help people and the only people who feel good about it is the congregation who think they are doing good.  

So, as a tither, what I look for is a church where my money will be at least as effective towards social justice as a standard NGO.  The benefit of an honest, transparent local church is that the community which I live in will benefit greater than any NGO can do around here.  If the church makes a greater positive impact in my community than any other organization including government, then why shouldn't I tithe?  Even if I wasn't a Christian, I would consider donating to a church that is making a positive difference in people's lives who live in the area.


 

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puddonhead said:   
Tithing/Zakat/Tzedakah have a very positive connotation in Abrahamic religions, i.e. the there-is-only-one-god-and-our-version-of-it-is-what-you-should-obey religions. That positive connotation, however, is not universal.

Muslim rulers, for example, have been known to use Zakat and it's counterpart - Jiziya - as tools of oppression over the common people.


 

  Tithing in Christianity = 10% of annual income
Tzedakah in Judasim = 10% of annual income
Zakat in Islam = 2.5% of liquid assets above certain threshold at the end the year. 

Jiziya = Protection tax system established since Byzantine era and continued in Islamic times where able-bodied men were expected to pay Jiziya in return for exemption from serving in the Army and government guaranteeing their safety,  same as taxes imposed by governments today.  In a sense Jiziya was better compare to today's taxes as women and seniors were exempt for paying Jiziya. 
 

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SlimTim said:   Tithing is always going to be controversial. Why do budget posters include it at all? It's not negotiable and going to be very distracting. Just post income as (actual * .9) and expenses as everything but tithing, and you'll get full attention on things that you'd actually consider changing.

It looks like the other thread OP has scrubbed the first post like this now.

  because we ask them questions.
We ask them to post their monthly income and monthly expenses in order to provide them advice for their unique situations
If they say they earn 10k/month and offer 9k in expenses, we say "where's the other 1k going?" and they say "10% tithe".

 

rated:
I won't disparage anyone's choice to tithe if that's what they believe and they can afford it. However, if someone comes onto this FINANCIAL forum for advice, and they can't afford the tithe or meet their goals without reducing the tithe, then I will certainly give that feedback.

A tithe is like a flat tax - It's great for rich people, but not so much for those just scraping by.

rated:
imbatman said:   
SlimTim said:   Tithing is always going to be controversial. Why do budget posters include it at all? It's not negotiable and going to be very distracting. Just post income as (actual * .9) and expenses as everything but tithing, and you'll get full attention on things that you'd actually consider changing.

It looks like the other thread OP has scrubbed the first post like this now.

  because we ask them questions.
We ask them to post their monthly income and monthly expenses in order to provide them advice for their unique situations
If they say they earn 10k/month and offer 9k in expenses, we say "where's the other 1k going?" and they say "10% tithe".

 


That's why I suggested the relevant answer to that question is "I earn 9k/month". That there's another 1k tithe isn't useful and is usually actively unhelpful.

rated:
SlimTim said:   
imbatman said:   
SlimTim said:   Tithing is always going to be controversial. Why do budget posters include it at all? It's not negotiable and going to be very distracting. Just post income as (actual * .9) and expenses as everything but tithing, and you'll get full attention on things that you'd actually consider changing.

It looks like the other thread OP has scrubbed the first post like this now.

  because we ask them questions.
We ask them to post their monthly income and monthly expenses in order to provide them advice for their unique situations
If they say they earn 10k/month and offer 9k in expenses, we say "where's the other 1k going?" and they say "10% tithe".

 


That's why I suggested the relevant answer to that question is "I earn 9k/month". That there's another 1k tithe isn't useful and is usually actively unhelpful.

  while I'm not someone that posts that stuff - I have a feeling if they're posting here, they're terrible with numbers and would not think to do that.
 

rated:
I think it's interesting that OP mentioned he gave 10% of his time to help in Nepal. I've never considered my "time" as part of my tithing, but I really like this viewpoint and it will make me feel better (not as guilty) when I don't tithe 10% of my paycheck.

I volunteer at my church and partner organizations my church is affiliated with. Yeah! FWF seriously helped me today!

My church certainly isn't the type to say "you can't come here unless you tithe" but they also don't turn down money.  I actually like they have a system setup to auto-tithe, which I do every other week.

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matrix5k said:   Had to Google what tithing is. Then I saw this on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxlS79Q3EXk


 

Also, the last time I went to the outlet mall all of the monks had flagship smartphones, Gucci clothing, etc.

I'm glad I'm atheist.

  The full depos for this guy are well worth watching

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I think it is a bit foolish to give to any charity even a church without reviewing their annual 990 form filed with the IRS. Any church with nothing to hide should have no problem sharing this with you.

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Churches are exempt from filing Form 990.

Skipping 116 Messages...
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BostonOne said:   “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
  
In advaita vedanta, from ancient India, once you realize yourself, YOU are god, or there is only one god, you just connect

but yeah being atheist is just... easier

as long as you live learn and spread some love, its all good bro

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