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According to official policy, what happens to members of the LDS church who do not pay their tithing? Specifically, what happens to those who:

  1. Forget to pay tithing for an extended period of time, or

  2. Openly refuse to pay tithing.

Background: I am a Mormon, and I frequently see people online saying that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are forced to pay tithing by various enforcement methods. I would like there to be a canonical answer on this site to point people towards. I will offer my anecdotal experiences in the comments.

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I have been a ward clerk who counted tithing, and in my experience, tithing is completely self reported. Members are asked if they are full tithe payers. Being a full tithe payer is a requirement for entering the temples. In my personal experience, those who don't pay tithing are generally uninterested in attending the temple. One major exception is during a wedding for a family member held in the temple. I have never seen this happen to someone I know, but I imagine this would be difficult. –  Brian Rushton Feb 21 at 1:40
    
Good question. It is also mandatory in the Mormon church to go on missionary trips for two years right after college. For Catholics, missionary duty is entirely voluntary. –  Anonymous Feb 21 at 1:40
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It is not completely mandatory; of my 30+ cousins, only two boys went on a mission. My father and grandfather did not go, and they both have all the same rights and privileges as other members, including officiating as volunteers in the temple. –  Brian Rushton Feb 21 at 1:48
    
@Anonymous Not only is it not mandatory, it doesn't have to be right after college, either. Men can go anytime between the ages of 18-30. Women can go when they're at least 19, but can go later too. LDS missionary service is entirely voluntary. Members who choose not to go are not subject to disciplinary action nor do they lose standing in the Church. –  Matt Feb 21 at 2:32
    
In partial answer to the first scenario in your question, how often one pays tithing isn't a factor (as I understand). Each year, when tithe standing is declared, it doesn't really matter how frequently the tithes were paid. It wouldn't surprise me if some members just wrote a big check once or twice a year. (I imagine it would be harder to keep track of everything though.) Of course, any individual's paying practices are highly confidential so it's hard to do more than speculate here. –  Matt Feb 21 at 2:34
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2 Answers 2

All quotes in this post are taken from "A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings" by Elder M. Russell Ballard (an LDS apostle) in the September 1990 Ensign, an official LDS publication.

There are two levels of discipline in the Church: informal discipline (at a Bishop's discretion) and formal discipline (which is recorded). Formal discipline requires a disciplinary council.

Informal discipline:

When a bishop learns of a transgression, usually through the confession of the member involved, he first counsels with the member. When the sin is not grievous, the bishop may decide, through inspiration, that no disciplinary action is needed. He may continue to give counsel and caution, helping the member resist temptation and avoid further transgression.

Another option the bishop has is to place the member on informal probation, temporarily restricting his privileges as a Church member—such as the right to partake of the sacrament, hold a Church position, or enter the temple. The bishop may ask the member to surrender his temple recommend temporarily. In addition, he may require the member to make specific positive changes in attitude or behavior. No official record is made or kept of informal probation. The bishop maintains close contact with the member and may terminate the probation period when he is prompted to do so.

Formal discipline:

Decisions of [a disciplinary council] are to be made with inspiration. A council can reach one of four decisions: (1) no action, (2) formal probation, (3) disfellowshipment, or (4) excommunication.

Non-payment of tithing only merits informal discipline:

Disciplinary councils are not held for such things as failure to pay tithing, to obey the Word of Wisdom, to attend church, or to receive home teachers.

When are such councils held?

The First Presidency has instructed that disciplinary councils must be held in cases of murder, incest, or apostasy. A disciplinary council must also be held when a prominent Church leader commits a serious transgression, when the transgressor is a predator who may be a threat to other persons, when the person shows a pattern of repeated serious transgressions, when a serious transgression is widely known, and when the transgressor is guilty of serious deceptive practices and false representations or other terms of fraud or dishonesty in business transactions.

Disciplinary councils may also be convened to consider a member’s standing in the Church following serious transgression such as abortion, transsexual operation, attempted murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, intentionally inflicting serious physical injuries on others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, child abuse (sexual or physical), spouse abuse, deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities, robbery, burglary, embezzlement, theft, sale of illegal drugs, fraud, perjury, or false swearing.

Thus, according to official LDS policy, members can only receive informal discipline (such as loss of a recommend) for not paying tithing.

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So formal probation, disfellowshipment or excommunication is not an action taken when tithe is not paid nor anything of the disciplinary council explination takes place if you dont pay tithe either, correct??? –  rob Feb 24 at 15:49
    
Yes, that's what I saw. –  Brian Rushton Feb 24 at 16:05
    
Ok I was just wanting to make sure I understood. Im new in SE and I was to underdstand that the answers were to be for the question and yours answer seemed mainly to reflect on the reasons for formal and informal discipline, not specifically the action taken for not paying tithe. –  rob Feb 24 at 16:42
    
@rob That's probably why your answer has more upvotes, which is an important part of the system to help people find good answers. –  Brian Rushton Feb 24 at 17:00
    
Yes I am definately learning the SE"game". I got tore up on one answer just because I did not format it proper, not because it was wrong. Oiy. So I am trying to learn from everything. Thx for the help. (0: –  rob Feb 24 at 17:05
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“Our major source of revenue is the ancient law of the tithe.Our people are expected to pay 10 percent of their income to move forward the work of the Church. The remarkable and wonderful thing is that they do it.Tithing is not so much amatter of dollars as it is a matter of faith.It becomes a privilege and an opportunity, not aburden.Our people believe in the word of God as set forth in the book of Malachi, that the Lord will open the windows of heaven and pour down blessings that there will not be room enough to receive them (Malachi 3:8-10 ).Moving and touching is the testimony of Latter-day Saints throughout the world concerning this the Lord’s law for the financing of His work.”

~ Gordon B.Hinckley, prior President LDS~

Members of the LDS Church are to pay "one-tenth of all their interest annually." [1] Every year, each member is asked to meet with the bishop to declare their tithing status: full-tithe payer, partial-tithe payer, or non-tithe payer. Tithing is considered a debt. [2] However, it is also an entrance fee—only full-tithe paying members are allowed to enter the Church's most holy place, the temple, and participate in important saving ordinances. . [3] Tithing is a debt owed to God. No matter the financial situation, every member is expected to pay that debt. Failure to do so is the same as robbing God and is deserving of God's curse.[4]Tithing is part of the obligations of sacrifice and consecration members are to follow . It is also stated with all commandments, there is a correlation between observance of the law of tithing and blessings or punishments. The promises to the obedient are great, but the revelation also warns,

"It shall come to pass that all…shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you" (D&C 119:5).

And

President Joseph F. Smith taught that the disobedient "have cut themselves off from the blessings of Zion," but added that the Lord will fulfill his rich promises to the faithful tithe payers of the Church (GD, pp. 225-27).

Now there are alternative ways to "tithe" aside from money but that would digress from the question.

  1. D&C 119:4 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/119.4#2

  2. President Marion G. Romney, "Concerning Tithing," The Ensign, June 1980 http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/06/concerning-tithing

  3. D&C 119 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/119

  4. Theodore Tuttle, General Conference, April 1970. Found in Family Home Evening Resource Book, Lesson Ideas, Tithing, 227

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I couldn't get the references to number proper...in my pre-post it is fine but in final edit it is as shown. It should be 1 2 3 4 not 1 1 2 3. I dont know how to fix it. –  rob Feb 24 at 5:33
    
I fixed the formatting for you. Welcome to Christianity.SE, and thanks for the well-researched posting! :) –  Mason Wheeler Feb 24 at 6:16
    
@MasonWheeler,thx for the welcome, complement and help. I used to study the LDS and how did you fix the format? ?? I tried 3 times and although it was correct in the draft it never posted right. I dont understand why it changed my post. –  rob Feb 24 at 6:53
    
The problem with your ordering was that the first one began 1.D&C, with no space between the 1. and the content after it. This was confusing the Markdown parser, so I added a space. –  Mason Wheeler Feb 24 at 13:33
    
@MasonWheeler, Ohh...I C .... Im on a Kindle and sometimes the area I type responses in is hard to read/see...blessings of old eyes. Hahaha... –  rob Feb 24 at 15:37
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