Mormon Finances and Charity
There has been quite a bit of discussion about Morg Charity and income. Based on the best information I can find, the following is a summary of the business of selling God. Sources include the following books and publications. Mormon America, Mormon Hierarchy – Extensions of Power, Mormon Corporate Empire, Time magazine, and Arizona Republic, in addition to various on-line sources. . No one really knows, because the Morg stopped reporting income in the late 1950’s when they were at the point of bankruptcy due to gross mismanagement. I would like to know any data that others have available.
The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a Corporate Sole with succession being the subsequent next President. That means he is the sole shareholder and owner of all businesses and holdings. Any legally required reporting would be to the President of the Church. Other than taxes, there is no legal obligation for reporting, other than to the owners. At this time, GBH is the sole owner. The Morg is tax exempt, so other than an annual information return, nothing is required. Real property is held by The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is a separate nonprofit corporation for the buildings, farms and raw property. I would guess that other than a few people at the top, no one knows the combined worth of the two main corporations. In addition to these corporations, there are a series of nonprofits that own BYU, Ricks and other holdings. There is also the for profit businesses which are owned by the nonprofits or select members. There are also the foreign corporations for each regional office. It is a very large and complex organization.
While the tithing amount is not disclosed, there have been several attempts to determine the world-wide collection of tithing by the Mormon Church. D. Michael Quinn (Mormon Hierarchy – Extensions of Power) and the Ostlings (Mormon America) both attempt to put a dollar value on tithing. The consensus between these and other authors is that it is between 4.5 and 6 Billion dollars per year. Other offerings are relatively minor by comparison and are generally used for charitable purposes. In addition, businesses that are in line with the core purpose of the Morg can be owned and operated on a tax exempt basis. Businesses that are not tax exempt can donate to the Morg without either entity paying tax on the donations. Below is a link to a partial list of Morg owned businesses.
Here is an older document about holdings.
Quinn reported that the known holdings included 48 banks, 34 lumber companies, 60 newspapers and magazines, 55 mining firms, 55 railroads and 9 hotels. There is also the $16 Billion insurance company and a chain of radio and TV stations.
In addition there are a number of related businesses that are indirectly owned by the Morg, having been sold or turned over to key members or groups. Quinn reported that ranking General Authorities were partners, Officers and Directors of over 900 different businesses. It is estimated that the gross revenues of these businesses is in excess to 6 Billion dollars per year. The net income or cash which would make its way into the coffers of the Morg would likely be in the 10% – 12% range. Add here an additional $720,000 in cash.
In addition to the $1.5 being spent on the SLC malls, the Morg holds 6,000 acres on the North Shore of Oahu from a purchase over 100 years ago. They more recently purchased 600 acres to be developed. This includes houses that will be sold and a luxury hotel. They hold over 300,000 acres of land in Florida close to Disney World and 95,000 acres in Alberta Canada. The Mormon Church owns in excess to 925,000 acres in North America. The appreciation of the property is probably the greatest hidden value in the Mormon Church.
The total was estimated at conservative $30 - 50 Billion 10 years ago. (Ostling, Quinn). This was using conservative land and asset valuation. A former stock broker of the Morg reported that approximately $200,000 was added to their investment portfolio each year.
The for profit real estate is very significant as well
The real estate division of the church conducts brisk dealings in land. Zion's Security Corporation, the church's commercial real estate arm, controls numerous office buildings in Salt Lake City, including regional headquarters for Kennecott Copper Company, J.C. Penney, Prudential Federal Savings and Loan, and many church facilities. It also owns the sprawling ZCMI (Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution) Mall in downtown Salt Lake as well as a controlling interest in the ZCMI store chain.
Since 1977 a sister corporation, Beneficial Development Corporation, has taken over development work for the church, and has established several industrial parks in association with private developers in Florida, Arizona, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Utah.
The current worth would be conservatively above $60 Billion, and if the current market value of holdings was added, it would likely be closer to $100 Billion.
Now a comparison of Morg charity and humanitarian aid. Ostling (Mormon America) compared the Morg to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). They had a similar number of reported members in 1997. At that time, the ELCA had $152 Million in assets that was primarily the pension fund for the employees. This is compared to the assets of the Morg as reported above. In 1997 the ELCA raised $11.8 Million for humanitarian aid and $3.64 Million for disaster relief for a total of 15.44 Million in cash donations for charity. In the 14 year period from 1984 – 1997 the Morg reported cash donations for non-Mormon charity at $30.7 Million, or an average of 2.19 Million per year. This translates to ELCA donating a little over 10% of its holdings in 1997 and the Mormon Church donating approximately .2% of its holdings. Most businesses in the US have higher percentage charitable contributions than does the Mormon Church.
There is a number of ways that the Morg can shift income away from foreign subs to the main Corporation or vice versa. The information reported in foreign countries is most likely manipulated to show what TSCC wants to show. By selling books, temple clothing, magazines and equipment to the foreign entity at inflated or deflated prices, the income can be managed and changed significantly. The reporting from foreign subs, such as England does not give much of an indication of the health or wealth of TSCC.