Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pay Lay Missionary


Some of you recall my blog  “Pay Lay Clergy” in which I speculated on the incomes of general authorities primarily based on extraneous sources such as corporate wikis, county property appraisers and other statements made by church leaders.  Now I have some direct evidence supporting these claims.  

Recently, I had a chance to read the LDS Church's Mission President's Handbook  (©2006 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.).  The section on finances (Appendix B) is illuminating.  I'll quote some of the Handbook under the fair-use clause for educational purposes.

It begins with this statement:

“While you are serving as mission president, the Church reimburses the necessary living expenses for you, your wife, and your dependent children.”

Note the term “necessary” prefixed to “living expenses”.

These “necessary” living expenses include: “food, clothing, household supplies, family activities, dry cleaning, personal long-distance calls to family, and modest gifts (for example, Christmas, birthdays, or anniversary).”  

Housing expenses include “rent (if leased), utilities, telephones, and Internet connection”;  “gardening and repair or replacement of household items” which includes hiring a gardener if needed for larger lots; “one part-time housekeeper-cook”;  “one mission automobile assigned exclusively to the mission president”;  and any assigned mission vehicle can be used by the wife or licensed dependents for “shopping, taking children to school, or other needs.”

The following “necessary” costs are also reimbursed (or provided directly in the mission home):  

  • Medical expenses (dental, eye care and medically necessary orthodontia)
  • Support for children serving full-time missions
  • One round trip fare for each child under age 26 to visit the parents’ mission
  • Elementary and secondary school expenses for tuition, fees, books, and materials
  • Undergraduate tuition at an accredited college or university (Tuition is waived at Church-owned schools.) 


I was not aware that tuition, paying for the child’s mission, modest Christmas gifts and more were “necessary living expenses”. Also note, mission presidents are requested not to pay tithing on funds (income) reimbursed by the church.

The handbook advises the mission president that “any funds reimbursed to you should be kept strictly confidential and should not be discussed with missionaries, other mission presidents, friends, or family members.”

Mission presidents are warned that they “should not open a local bank account for personal funds received from the Church . . . especially if the account would produce interest (and thus raise income tax questions).”  Instead of allowing mission president control over their personal funds, “a joint personal bank account at Church headquarters is established for you and your wife.” 

The tax issue raised is addressed more fully in the handbook.  The Church avoids tax issues by carefully defining the relationship between themselves and the mission president as a “volunteer religious service” so that “any funds reimbursed to you from the Church are not considered income for tax purposes; they are not reported to the government, and taxes are not withheld with regard to these funds.”

In order to keep quiet the situation, not only are the mission presidents told not to discuss any funds they receive with any member (as quoted above), but also to “not share information on funds you receive from the Church with those who help you with financial or tax matters.”  To “never represent in any way that you are paid for your service.” And “do not list any funds you receive from the Church, regardless of where you serve or where you hold citizenship.”

This secrecy listed in a secret handbook that was formerly only accessible to mission president and general authorities raises the question about the church’s lack of financial transparency.  First of all, if mission presidents get the benefit of all living expenses (necessary and beyond) paid by the Church, including highly expensive benefits like college tuition and gardeners, what do the Quorum of the 70 receive?  What do the 12 apostles earn?  

Secondly, the pretense that the mission presidents are unpaid volunteers is akin to saying the CEO’s of corporations aren’t millionaires when paid only a $200,000 salary but are gifted $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 bonuses and stock options.  What does the IRS say about such lucrative back-door payments (i.e., “reimbursements”)?  
IRS document http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc417.html states:
 “A minister who receives a housing allowance may exclude the allowance from gross income to the extent it is used to pay expenses in providing a home. Generally, those expenses include rent, mortgage interest, utilities, repairs, and other expenses directly relating to providing a home. The amount excluded cannot be more than the reasonable pay for the minister's services.” 
One has to question if gardeners, tuitions, dental plans, dry cleaning, Christmas gifts and more are included in the reasonable pay clause.  

Hold on, even though the mission presidents do receive a large allowance, they are told to never claim any pay, so there’s no gross income from which they can exclude these “reasonable” expenses.  Tricky tricky.  

The latest managing editor of Mormonthink “warned the church that payments to mission presidents should be reported to the UK tax authorities as they were 'employees' under UK tax law.”  We understood “it was discussed at a First Presidency meeting with the Presiding Bishopric and they decided to continue not reporting, and pay any fines when, and if, they were discovered.”

The disclosures found in the well-guarded Mission Presidents Handbook show that not only are the Pay Lay Missionary policies fraught with intentional concealment,  but give near direct evidence that the general authorities and apostles receive generous benefits and reimbursements for most of life’s “necessary” expenses.   Likewise, they wouldn't pay tithing on moneys given them by the church. That is, general authorities don't pay tithing (even though they regularly preach paying it to members.) Perhaps these are justifiable on some level.  If so, why wouldn’t the church acknowledge them and do more than barely meet the legal requirement rather than the acclaimed “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”?  

It depends on what "is" is and what "pay" you pay, I suppose.  Slick DC bureaucrats would be proud of Mormon leaders.




The LDS church claims to follow Christ when one of his primary missions was to take care of the poor. However, with ordinary missionaries having to be frugal, missionary couples having to pay for everything, members as free janitors cleaning toilets and them paying tithing when they can't afford their own mortgages, the LDS church by paying for GA's kids private schools, GA's gardeners and GA's up-scale homes has shown its priority to have the poorest members take care of the richest leaders.

50 comments:

  1. You can't redistribute the Handbook without violating copyright, but you can link to it. Hyperlinks are not considered redistribution, since the copyright owner is the one hosting the data on their own site and a hyperlink merely directs a reader to the original publication.

    ReplyDelete
  2. LDS...Latter-Day Douchebaggery Scum. :)





















    ReplyDelete
  3. So there is written evidence of the movies"lying for the Lord" policy in the handbook?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bloody autocheck. "movies" should not be in there!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is clearly in violation of the Articles of Faith....They are blatantly disregarding "honoring and sustaining the law".

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good luck to the LDS Church in removing that document from the Internet :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. The link to the file is gone, but it is here:
    . .
    http://archive.org/download/2006LdsMissionPresidentsHandbook/MissionPresidentsHandbook2006.pdf
    . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How are things removed from the internet archive?

      Delete
    2. It disappeared just as mysteriously as it appeared...just like the golden tablets!

      Delete
    3. Just go back and search for "2006 Lds Mission Presidents Handbook"

      Delete
  8. now your link is gone, anonymous. serious.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I just downloaded the PDF (54MB).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good work! This is unbelievable (and yet, with the Church, is anything ever really unbelievable...?)
    I just cannot believe the crap some people are willing to swallow and look past.

    ReplyDelete
  11. From the handbook: "You receive a roster each month listing your mission's complement and information about all missionaries assigned to your mission." I'm curious what sort of information the mission president receives about the missionaries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a mission secretary in a Central American mission. The current system is computerized. As such, I had a limited subset of the available information. It included all personal details (including parental contact info and membership status). It includes everything on the mission application, including letters of recommendation from bishops and stake presidents. We even had missionaries sorted by blood type.

      The mission president supposedly had access to a much more thorough set of information including all previous notes from bishops' interviews. That's rumor and not confirmed, however. I can only confirm what I saw as per my first paragraph.

      Delete
  12. "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

    Of course you do, of course you do.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous, how can I get in touch with you to obtain a copy of that file?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never mind. I got a copy. XD

      Delete
    2. I would like a a copy of that file as well please!

      Delete
  14. Is it true that the church does not pay any taxes on the sales and leasings of their condos at city creek? Wondering if all the GA's and 70's get their own mortgage/tax free condo as a clergy privilege.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What about the money they receive from sitting on the boards of church corporations? I know GAs are well compensated for doing nothing but how many mission presidents sit on boards?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Twede wrote about that in the other pay lay blog.

      Delete
  16. See http://www.reddit.com/r/mormon/comments/14jt1t/how_mormon_mission_presidents_get_paid for why this post is misleading. There's no tax issue here. The centralized accounts are to make it easier to monitor and audit, not to hide it from the government. The IRS has the power to look at those records in an audit, and I'm sure they have. The handbook also states that mission presidents are to keep careful records of their expenses for tax purposes. It also states that the church has cases and research to support the non-payment of taxes on those reimbursement accounts.

    What we have here is a whole bunch of amateur tax lawyering going on, and pretty badly. Even someone with a basic understanding of tax law knows that just because income isn't reported doesn't mean the government can't look at the records.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. m3lvn,
      Since you seem to imply that you know much about the tax law, please clarify a few things for us.
      1) Whose TAX ID NUMBER is associated with the special bank accounts that MP's and their wives are able to use just like their own personal funds?
      2) Do they use the SSN of the MP?
      3) Do the MPs spend any of their own funds or pay for things directly from the hidden special checking accounts?
      4) Can you review the IRS publication on reimbursements due to moving expenses, housing expenses living abroad and let me know why the IRS taxed me on these reimbursements but the LDS church gets off on them?

      See http://www.irs.gov/publications/p521/ar02.html#en_US_2012_publink1000203511
      for starters

      Delete
  17. I believe Dave said they do meet the legal requirements from the IRS, but that they play loose with the interpretation of "necessary living expenses". (third from last paragraph). This blog isn't misleading, or at least, no more misleading than saying we have unpaid lay clergy. Are you a lawyer, Melvin? You may need to go back and finish reading beyond the first paragraph.

    ReplyDelete
  18. M3lvn,
    Perhaps I am cynical but I don't think the IRS is ready to pick a fight with the Mormon church about taxes. They might have looked at it but...

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't think your going to be successful painting church leaders as high rollers seeking to hide big dollar incomes from the church members.

    I don't see any reason for church leaders to be kept on the edge of poverty to appease those who want to find any means possible to criticize them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't be deluded. Do a little searching (or reading) and find that many many of the 12 who've been in church leadership most of their adult life have very lucrative positions and possessions. For example, Monson, a church employee of 40+ years, owns two vacation homes and apparently a ritzy condo in SLC (soon at City Creek). He mentioned one of the vacation homes at GC in Oct.

      Delete
    2. He has all that stuff because he did a lot more than be an apostle since 1963. Among many others, he worked for Key Bank. Are you now going to claim that Key paid him with LDS tithing money and he evaded all the taxes. C'mon man, learn something about what you are criticizing.

      Delete
    3. He has all that stuff because he did a lot more than be an apostle since 1963. Among many others, he worked for Key Bank. Are you now going to claim that Key paid him with LDS tithing money and he evaded all the taxes? C'mon man, learn something about what you are criticizing.

      Delete
  20. Edge of poverty???? are you kidding me? When you overstate your case you have little credabilty
    None of the GA are anywhere near median income. They all have made lots of money in the private/corporate world that is the church in Utah.

    ReplyDelete
  21. While on my mission in the 90's the new incoming MP handed me a folder of cleared checks that the previous MP wrote...let's just say I wanted to puke after seeing all the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars wasted on "necessary" stuff like trips from South America to Disney World!

    ReplyDelete
  22. While serving as Bishop and doing everything in my power to stay positive because I loved the people of our stake so much, I used to shake my head at what my friends in the church finance department were telling me as they struggled with their consciences. I was torn because I didn't want to hear it but they wanted someone to understand their guilty feelings and tell them they weren't crazy. Two of the ones I respect most ended up resigning to re-join companies because they couldn't take the guilt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And what did you hear from your friends in the church finance dept?

      Delete
  23. I am a little late to the party here but would like a copy of that to add to my collection.

    Could someone who has it email it to me. I use the google mail service and my user name is praxeum33.

    Thank you in advance

    ReplyDelete
  24. If someone is willing to walk away from their home life for several years to help coordinate services on behalf of a church it would seem reasonable that they get the things reimbursed that they would normally have to earn income to cover. If they would normally be able to earn income for their children to serve missions or go to school because those are important tenants of ones religious practice then that too seems reasonable. As I understand it people don't 'apply' to be a mission president, so if I was to be offered an opportunity to live away from home in voluntary service but this involved being uprooted from my home, community and source of income it seems okay to me, and not excessive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, why don't missionary couples get some of those perks? The church is always crying for more free labor.

      Delete
  25. So who best describes you? Sherem, Nehor or Korihor?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Does anyone have a link that works to the MP handbook? I would like a copy.

    ReplyDelete
  27. http://archive.org/details/MissionPresidentsHandbook2006

    ReplyDelete
  28. What the hell is wrong with all these people on this site, seriously, I'm not even affiliated with this religion but geeze, it's like you guys are so upset about some guy "mission president?" leaving his home and profession to oversee kids talking to people about Christ? You guys are damaged. Reading sites like this makes me actually feel empathy for the Mormons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct we are damaged and would like to seek compensation for those damages.

      Delete
    2. Thank goodness for the voice of reason here. Leave your job and your income for 3 years to work 24 / 7. Pray for and manage hundreds of young kids, etc. How would they earn the tuition, etc. you all are whining about.

      Delete
  29. Jeremy, go ahead and become a Mormon if you like. Some of us have listened for decades while a church boasts shamelessly that it has "no paid clergy" while practicing as illustrated in this 2006 Mission Pres. Handbook. The higher leaders in the Mormon church get paid while the unsuspecting lay church member works a full time job and then takes on an additional schedule of "church callings" with literally NO PAY. The hierocracy is horrific. You may not get it. I could care less. If you were one of the field workers watching the bosses say they don't get paid while they line their bank accounts, then you'd get it..

    ReplyDelete
  30. I heard through the grapevine that my childhood friend Gary Stevenson, the Presiding Bishop, is keenly aware of the shady tax stance taken by the church and is trying to change it. A smart business man for decades, he realizes the exposure risk is not worth the monetary savings. The big 15 are not taking his advice last I heard.... This is all rumor, mind you, but fits the personalities of the players.

    ReplyDelete
  31. What spectacular envy and greed is on display here. Even if every one of the speculative claims made here were true, none of it would ever give anyone justification for your prideful envy and greed. If you want to really find happiness let go of your pride.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I don't think it is envy or greed, or that those that are paid are necessarily overpaid...or shouldn't be paid...I can't judge, but it isn't disclosed, and it isn't honest to squiggle around the tax laws. And, churches that run for-profit businesses should be paying taxes. If their corporations generously give money to the church, it can be deducted from income in accordance with all tax laws, like any charitable donation is. These deliberate evasions make one think their offices should be on Wall Street not hiding under some undeserved mantle of holiness out in the desert.

    ReplyDelete
  33. You do know that there are FALSE WITNESSES posting in here. Satan will gt who they can....and that is YOU! May God Bless! We've known too many Mission Presidents and there is too much FALSE subjective opinions.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Monson did not work at Key Bank. He and other general authorities were on the local board of directors until the bank became a national bank in the 1990's. They received pay for their board of director duties. I know as I worked at Key Bank and attended party at the President of Key Bank's home and the General Authorities who were or had been board members were in attendance.

    ReplyDelete