Comments about ‘Elder Oaks testifies before Senate committee, defends charitable deductions’

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Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 9:00 a.m. MDT

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Cedar Hills, UT

The fed gov under Obama is all about tax tax tax. That is the way all socialist countries work... tax tax tax and then let the gov decide where they want to distribute the wealth. That is NOT America but it is Obama. Elder Oaks is rightly concerned with the possible change to charitable contributions and perhaps not being able to deduct those contributions on your tax return.Many people in the LDS church will continue to pay tithing regardless but there will be many who will not pay tithing if they can't deduct that contribution on the their taxes which will greatly impact the Church and its ability to build and grow.

Bountiful, Utah

Sorry Elder Oaks, but I'll have to disagree with your position on this matter. And if you are saying that paying tithing partially occurs because someone receives a charitable donation for it, then I guess you are saying that the reasons we are taught in church to pay tithing aren't the real reasons here? I have been a member of the LDS church all my life and I do not believe that real charity involves a mindset of being able to get a tax donation. I have NEVER deducted one cent of tithing or any other charitable donation on my income taxes. You see, somehow I don't think it is fair that the government (meaning all the rest of the population in this country) should have to give me back one third of the tithing that I pay to my church. I think that is WRONG and I fully support eliminating all deduction for charitable donations. If that changes an individual's decision to give, so be it. It won't change my decision to give. Some people learn what true charity is; others don't. Its time people step up to the plate and give without any expectation of receiving anything back.

Murray, Utah

re: Kami

Perhaps you missed the part about this extending well beyond religious tithes.

Cougar Blue
N. Las Vegas, NV

To patriot: Wow, I think you just shucked the corn and got to the kernel. If they don't get a tax break, they won't pay their tithing? Well maybe that's just something they should take up with the Lord. Tax, tax, tax, that's Obama's way. If you would look, you'd find our personal tax rates are now at their lowest point since 1950, so stop this moaning and groaning about taxes. It's become a crutch for those too lazy to do some research on their own. Secondly, the Republican manifesto says we should "pay our own way." Why do you think the gentiles want to subsidize with their taxes, our tithing and fast offerings? Isn't that what the teaparty people think, unless of course it's going to take money out of thine own pocket. You can't have things both ways. You pay tithing because you're asked to do so by the Lord, not because you might get a tax break for doing it. Where are your priorities? Or is it, "where your money lies, there also lies thy heart?

Abe Sarvis
Cedar City, UT

While it's true that Democrats like to tax tax tax, let's not forget that it's the Republicans in congress, led by Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, who want to do away with the charitable donation deduction - although they might allow it to remain for those with incomes above $5 million, because, after all, those are the people who make the largest charitable donations. Besides, if you let the rabble deduct charitable donations, they might donate to things that Republicans don't like.

Paul in MD
Montgomery Village, MD

Although I doubt too many folks will stop paying tithing if the Federal government takes away that deduction, it will have a negative effect on other types of donations, in the church to some degree but far more outside the church.

There are many people who want to give, but do count on a tax break in order to be able to afford it.

Closer to home, losing that deduction means I would have less to spend to support my family, meaning cuts in my budget across the board. There isn't much left to cut these days, and what I don't spend stops going to local businesses.

West Valley, UT

People who donate to charitable causes should not be doing so because they get a tax break for it. This is one loophole that needs to be closed. You donate out of the goodness of your heart and a genuine desire to help others, if you do it for the tax break that's the wrong reason and organizations would probably be better off without your money.

Lane Myer
Salt Lake City, UT


I'm with Kami. It does not make any difference whether it is for religious tithes or GIVING to the Boy Scouts or the cancer Institute. It is suppose to be done without wanting anything back in return. Isn't this what Americans are like? Why do we need something in return?

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

Ending this deduction would effectively end most charitable giving in the US. This is yet another example of Obama and company forgetting about the truly poor of our country, those that are helped by charitable and non-profit organizations. This has nothing to do with LDS continuance to pay tithing, we'll do that regardless of tax deduction, but the total amounts given to charity by non-LDS people have to just be staggering; to lose that large amount of giving would escalate pressures on welfare programs to supplement the loss. This is a terrible idea and obviously hasn't been thoroughly examined. Obama is not treading water very well at this point.

Salt Lake City, UT

Kami and others,

What do you believe the purpose of government is, if not to encourage the behavior that is seen by the majority of its citizens as beneficial to society? Can I assume that if you're against the government encouraging people to act charitably, you are similarly against the government encouraging people and companies to act responsibly towards the planet with its EPA regulations or encouraging Wall Street investors to act responsibly with regulations?

Tooele, UT

@Kami 10:13

Regardless of whether you deduct your tithing from your taxes or not, the fact of the matter is, you still get something back when you pay your tithing. Every Sunday, you get to attend church in a comfortable, air-conditioned building. Every time you attend the temple, you get to perform work in a well built, inspiring structure. Every time you read a church magazine or visit a church website or send a child off to a seminary or Institute class, you're getting something back from tithing.

The fact of the matter is, tax deductions are no different. There are many people who are on very fixed incomes and to strip away the opportunity for them to benefit from their charitable giving would be the same as taking away church buildings or other church structures because the church should only spend its money on the poorest of the poor.

@DeltaFoxtrot 10:32

Should we also eliminate per child tax credits? Should we eliminate tax breaks for new businesses? Should we eliminate every tax deduction there is or just the ones that don't negatively effect you?

Out There in, WI

I think what Oaks is bringing out is that the support to those in need in our country will be significantly reduced if the charitiable deduction is reduced or eliminated. I don't think he's so much worried about the LDS or any other church having their income reduced as much as the help given to those in need being reduced. Back a few weeks ago when the FEMA funding was on the line over the then-latest example of government gridlock it was suggested by some that disaster aid should be given by the government even if it meant borrowing. Of course there were objections, loud and long. Now we're hearing voices say we should reduce the ability of the private sector to render aid? That's nuts. Let's not make it harder to help others, okay? It's already a sacrifice, let's not make it more so if we can help it.

Bountiful, Utah

@Johnny Triumph, I'm curious as to why you apparently think that LDS are the only people on the block who would continue to give if they could no longer receive a tax deduction. Do you REALLY believe that?

Spanish Fork, UT

It seems to me that most people are forgetting that up until 1913 there wasn't a personal income tax code in the United States. Taxes were charged on imports in the form of tariffs, and alcoholic beverages were taxed as well. In fact, when this country was formed there was no federal tax on the citizens as well, but citizens were encouraged to donate to the government. My how things have changed.

"It is the duty of every citizen of these Thirteen Colonies to pay the absolute least amount of taxes possible!" Benjamin Franklin

Done That
Monroe, CT

Lane and Kami, you need to look at things in a much greater perspective than just religious donations. For the most part non-profits do a MUCH better job then government in helping people/organizations in need. Plus outside the LDS church , believe me there are a lot of folks that would cut back on their donations if they were taxed by the government, probably even some LDS as well. Again unintended consequences from new laws usually have a very negative effect on our freedom and our ability to help those we CHOOSE to help. I would rather have make that decision versus the bureaucrats.

Phoenix, AZ

Incorporated organized religion is one of the world's biggest business and they should be taxed the same as every other business.

Tooele, UT

It sounds quite noble to say people should only give to charity "...out of the the goodness of their heart," but the fact of the matter is, everyone benefits from non-profit charities whether we realize it or not.

Throughout the country, there are non-profit organizations which have built playgrounds, donated money for libraries, helped injured people with blood donations, assisted with cancer and other disease research, given grants to drug addiction and alcoholic treatment facilities, assisted women who have been victims of domestic violence and helped girls who have suffered from eating disorders.

You may not think you're a direct benefactor from someone's charitable giving, but I'll bet in one way or another you are and you would feel it if that work of charity disappeared.


The purpose of the tax break is for the US Govt to allow its citizens to allocate the money to the charities that they feel are of greatest importance to them, which I suggest is better since your more emotionally involved in terms of time and personal involvement with the organizations you directly give money to.

If we eliminate the tax break, all we're really doing in increasing the tax rate on individuals, and shifting the right and responsibility of where the tax money goes from our hands to the government.

While most I suspect will still pay their tithing, they will then have less to money to direct toward other worthy causes. In the end, it won't be the church that loses out as much as other charities those "tax" dollars compete with.

ute alumni
Tengoku, UT

United Way has held companies and employees hostage to contribute will be crushed if the donation deduction is eliminated. To all those that think the LDS church should not be tax exempt, fine. Then I believe the Church should stop building seminaries all over Utah. The increase of property tax will skyrocket as more teachers and class rooms will be needed to provide for the students that otherwise have been taken care of during that hour. Good luck. Libs may get what they are looking for and like this administration, it will be disasterous.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Some believe that the government is best able to decide how to distribute money to those in need, from those who have. They are called "socialists" or "communists."

Others believe that whatever a person earns by their hard work, or skillful investments, is theirs to do with as they please. That includes funding churches, abortion clinics, animal shelters, food kitchens, public TV stations, museums, Boy Scouts or even churches. They have no obligation to donate to any or all of these, and recipients should be very grateful for whatever is given to them. This is called "freedom."

The "end the tax breaks" crowd fails to realize that if donor "A" decided to give away $1 million, currently the charity gets $1 million. If no longer tax deductible, and there is a 35% tax rate, then donor "A" will probably only give $650,000 because the government will be taking the other $350,000.

It is interesting that studies show that the "liberals" demanding more taxes seem to be significantly less generous in making charitable contributions than conservatives. Spending other people's money is easier than spending your own.

Keep the deduction! And, give generously to your choice of charity.

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