Mitt Romney's Tithing
In early 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney revealed his tax statements for 2010 and 2011, showing him to be comfortably within the top one percent of America in wealth, one of the wealthiest candidates ever to run for U.S. president. This and the amount of taxes paid by Romney (about 15%) caused a stir, but so did his charitable giving, most of which went to his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes nicknamed the Mormon Church. About 15 percent of Romney's income went to such charitable giving.
Interviewed on television, Romney said he had promised himself (and God) at a young age that he would always pay "tithing," and he has been constant and consistent in keeping that promise. The words "tithe" and "tithing" refer to the number ten. As an ancient biblical gospel principle, tithing refers to the offering of 10 percent of one's increase to the Lord through His ecclesiastical representatives on earth.
- “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10).
The paying of tithing is a principle with promise, that the Lord will pour out blessings upon those who live this law. Not that all Mormons are rich, but the stories of the blessings (both spiritual and temporal) of paying tithing are common in the Church.
Michael Otterson, spokesman for the LDS Church, wrote an article in the Washington Post explaining the paying of tithing.
- The principle is simple to understand and administer. Each member, knowing their accountability to God, decides for themselves what “one tenth of their increase” means, when and how to pay it. For people on regular salaries, it is usually a tenth of their income and paid weekly or monthly. It is an honor system that works very well, because each member has a sense of consecrating a portion of his or her means to God’s work. Since the entire church depends on its members to serve as lay ministers and provide service in a myriad of ways, paying tithing is simply another private yet tangible affirmation of that spirit of sacrifice. 
Mitt Romney pays the same amount of tithing as the poorest member of the LDS Church — ten percent. When a person pays with stocks rather than cash, he or she is paying "in kind," not too different from the early days of the [[Restoration|restored gospel] in America, when people paid with the best ten percent of their produce or livestock. These tithes paid in kind are liquidated by the Church for their current value.
Tithing payments are confidential. There is no collection plate passed in church meetings. It is true that in order to be worthy to enter Mormon temples to worship and make higher covenants, he or she must be a full tithe-payer. But this status is determined only by the declaration to the bishop (leader of the congregation) that this is the case.
Other offerings are made my members of The Church of Jesus Christ, and most people who are full-tithe payers also make other offerings, meaning they pay more than 10 percent of their income to the Church. Once each month, Mitt Romney and other active Mormons pay "Fast offerings." Members fast for two meals the first Sunday of each month and donate the value of the food to the poor and needy through the remarkable LDS Church Welfare Program. Those who are prosperous usually donate much more. Although members may also donate to the missionary fund, the Perpetual Education Fund to a temple construction fund, and more, the most common donation is to LDS Philanthropies and Latter-day Saint charities for humanitarian aid. The LDS Church has donated over $3 billion worth of aid since 1985. The Church participates in disaster relief and many ongoing programs. Because most of the effort is driven by volunteers, nearly 100% of donations go to aid rather than to overhead or salaries. This makes the humanitarian aid funds of the Church of Jesus Christ a good choice for philanthropic giving.
Mormons' Donations are Sacred
Mitt Romney's tithes and those of other members are considered sacred funds and handled in the most ethical and organized way possible. (See LDS Church Finances.) Said late prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:
- “What a contrast with the cumbersome, complex, and difficult tax codes enacted and enforced by governments,” he noted, adding, “We know that these funds are sacred. We have a compelling trust to use them carefully and wisely…. I keep on the credenza in my office this genuine widow’s mite…. I keep it as a reminder of the sacrifice it represents, that we are dealing with the consecration of the widow as well as the offering of the wealthy.”
- Mitt Romney's tithes and those tithes of all other members are used by the Church in numerous ways. "There are nearly 30,000 congregations throughout the world, and simply providing them with buildings in which to meet and classrooms to teach in absorbs a large part of the church’s income. Educational programs, including church-owned universities, also require funding, as do many other programs throughout the world."