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Finances of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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This 15-barreled silo at Welfare Square contains enough wheat to feed a small city for 6 months.[1]

The finances of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) are not a matter of public record. In the absence of official statements, people interested in knowing the LDS Church's financial status and behavior, including both members of the LDS Church and others, have attempted to estimate or guess.[2] According to the church, their funding comes from the donations of its members and the principal expense is in constructing and maintaining facilities.[3]

When the church takes in more donations than it pays out in period expenses, it uses the surplus to build a reserve for capital expenditures and for future years when period expenses may exceed donations. The church invests its reserve to maintain the principal and generate a reasonable return and directs its investments into income-producing assets that may help it in its mission, such as farmland- and communication-related companies and the City Creek Center (see below).[4]

The church has not publicly disclosed its financial statements in the United States since 1959.[5] The church does disclose its financials in the United Kingdom[6] and Canada[7] where it is required to do so by law. In the UK, these financials are audited by the UK office of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The church maintains an internal audit department that provides its certification at each annual general conference that contributions are collected and spent in accordance with established church policy. In addition, the church engages a public accounting firm (currently Deloitte) to perform annual audits in the United States of its not-for-profit,[8] for-profit,[9] and some educational[10][11] entities.


In the 1880s and '90s, the LDS Church fell into severe financial distress due to several factors that were exacerbated by the nationwide economic depression that began with the Panic of 1893.

Under the provisions of the anti-polygamy Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887 which were upheld in the 1890 Supreme Court ruling Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States, the U.S. government had confiscated church property, including tithing money donated by members (real estate such as churches and temples was never seized, though the Edmund-Tucker act allowed for such seizures). Additionally, the LDS Church had borrowed extensively to finance a variety of infrastructural developments such as gristmills and after the 1893 financial crisis, the church was unable to make timely payments on their loans. Wilford Woodruff, president from 1889 to 1898, privately expressed doubt that the church would ever pay its debts.[12] Eventually the LDS Church obtained the backing of investment bank Kuhn, Loeb & Co. to issue bonds backed by the labor of Utah residents.[12]

By the time Lorenzo Snow became president in 1898, the church was $2.3 million in debt.[13][unreliable source?] Snow reemphasized the payment of tithing (giving 10% of one's income to the church) and by 1907 the church was completely out of debt and since then has not used debt to fund its operations, even for capital projects.[14][15] An early pioneer venture of the church was ZCMI which lasted from 1868 to divesting ZCMI Center Mall in 2007.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the church greatly increased spending on buildings under the leadership of Henry Moyle. Moyle's reasoning was that by building larger meetinghouses, the church would attract more converts. The accelerated building program led to a $32 million deficit in 1962. It was Moyle who convinced David O. McKay to discontinue publishing an annual financial statement in order to hide the extent of the spending.[16] Eventually, McKay relieved Moyle from his administrative responsibilities and spending was reined in.[17]

Moyle was also responsible for acquiring what is today one of the church's most valuable properties: the Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch.[18] Another highly profitable asset is the Polynesian Cultural Center that became one of Hawaii's most popular tourist attractions under the leadership of Howard W. Hunter during the 1960s and 1970s.[19]

Current source of funding[edit]

According to the LDS Church, most of its revenues come in the form of tithes and fast offerings contributed by members.[20] Tithing donations are used to support operations of the church, including construction and maintenance of buildings and other facilities, and are transferred from local units directly to church headquarters in Salt Lake City, where the funds are centrally managed.[21]

An independent analysis from 2012 estimates that the church brings in approximately $7 billion annually in tithes and other donations.[22]

Tithing outside the United States[edit]

Financial Records are required by law to be reported in some countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Tithing receipts by country
Year Australia*[23] Great Britain[24] Canada*[25]
2016 A$30,462,681 £31,142,000
2017 A$32,089,024 £31,092,000
2018 A$34,744,045 £32,303,000 C$178,017,618
2019 A$34,987,420 £31,734,000 C$177,533,188
2020 A$29,825,902 £29,221,000 C$179,299,529
2021 A$35,108,544 £34,408,000 C$186,339,188
2022 A$40,156,155 C$184,567,959
*All receipted donations, including tithing

Use of funds[edit]

The LDS Church reports that it uses most of its financial resources to construct and maintain buildings and other facilities. The church also spends its funds on providing social welfare and relief and supporting missionary, educational, and other church-sponsored programs.[26][27] Additionally, mission presidents,[28] who serve full-time in these capacities, can receive compensation from the church in the form of housing, living allowances, and other benefits while they are on assignment. No funds are provided for services rendered.

Construction of facilities[edit]

The church has stated it uses tithing funds to build new chapels and temples.[29] The LDS Church has 350 temples in various phases, which includes 195 dedicated temples (with 188 operating, and 7 previously-dedicated, but closed for renovation[30]), 49 under construction, and 106 others announced (not yet under construction). It has been suggested that recent temple construction represents an attempt by church leadership to “re-energize” congregations in the face of flat numerical growth.[31]

Maintenance of facilities[edit]

The church pays to maintain its chapels and temples around the world. These costs include repairs, utilities, grounds maintenance, and specialized custodial work. Members also assist with cleaning local chapels by providing general custodial work. These facilities are cost-centers for the church, and maintaining them represents a significant use of the church's funds.[32] The materials used in church classes and the budgets to run activities and other things done by the various congregations of the church are also centrally funded. It also funds the printing and distribution of manuals for classes, and funds all congregational activities through centralized budgeting.[33]

Social welfare and relief[edit]

The LDS Church operates a welfare distribution system, as it encourages members to seek financial assistance from family and the church first before seeking public or state-sponsored welfare.[34] AgReserves Inc., Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch, and Farmland Reserve, Inc. are part of its welfare distribution system. Welfare resources are distributed by local bishops but maintained by the Presiding Bishopric. It also sends relief aid to victims of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and other natural disasters around the world. The relief effort has been recognized through many organizations and political leaders, including the United States leaders in reaction to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort by the church.[citation needed]


The LDS Church uses donations to support all, or part, of the Church Educational System (CES).[citation needed] As part of CES, the church owns, operates, and subsidizes education at Brigham Young University, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, and Ensign College. CES also includes the seminary program for secondary students (typically, ages 14–18), and institutes of religion for post-secondary students and adult learners. In 2011, approximately 730,000 individuals were enrolled in seminary and institute programs in 147 countries.[35] CES courses of study are separate from religious instruction provided through church congregations.

The church also operates a handful of elementary and secondary schools[22] in the Pacific Islands and Mexico.

Other programs[edit]

The church also spends tithing funds collected on missionary, youth, and other programs which the church considers to be within its mission. Although the families of LDS missionaries (usually young men ages 18–25 or young women above age 19) generally pay US$400 a month for missions, general church funds are used to assist those who need additional support to pay for their missions. This monthly family contribution will increase to US$500 on July 1, 2020.[36] Church members may donate to assist in supporting these missionaries. Additionally, the church provides a mission office and mission home for each of its 399[37] missions and pays for television advertising offering free copies of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and church-produced videos and DVDs. The cost of printing or producing these materials is covered by the church and the materials are distributed for free. Throughout the world, it has historically supported Scouting programs for young men[38] (although that relationship is concluding at the end of 2019) and a youth organization for young women. The church also runs a large family history organization which collects records of genealogical import from many archives worldwide and allows online family tree collaboration. It also creates and publishes curriculum and audio/video (church films, etc.),[39]

Volunteer labor[edit]

The church tempers its cash expenses through the use of volunteer labor. In 1995, the church's human resources department estimated that the 96,484 volunteers serving at the time contributed services having an annual value of $360 million. This data did not include those serving as full-time church missionaries.[14]


Time magazine estimated in 1996 that the church's assets exceeded $30 billion.[1] This figure represents only one side of the balance sheet and does not include current liabilities for maintenance, although the church incurs virtually no long-term liabilities.[14] After the Time article was published, the church responded that the financial figures in the article were "grossly exaggerated."[40] Three years later, annual revenues were estimated to be $5 billion, with total assets at $25 to $30 billion.[41]

Ensign Peak Advisors[edit]

Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc. (EP) was founded as the LDS Church's investment division in the 1960s and was still considered to be a "shoestring operation" into the 1990s. By 2020, it managed about $100 billion in assets.[42]

In 2019, a former EP employee made a whistleblower report to the IRS alleging that the church held over $100 billion of assets in a large investment fund.[43] The whistleblower further alleged that the church-operated fund failed to use its revenues for charitable purposes and instead used them in for-profit ventures; and that it misled contributors and the public about the usage and extent of those funds. According to the whistleblower, applicable law requires the funds be used for religious, educational or other charitable purposes for the fund to maintain its tax-exempt status. If confirmed, the $100 billion net worth would exceed the combined net worths of the world's largest university endowment (Harvard University) and the world's largest philanthropic foundation (Gates Foundation).[43] Other commentators have argued that such expenditures may not be legally required as claimed.[44]

In response to the allegations, the church's First Presidency stated that "the Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves," and that "a portion" of funds received by the church are "methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future." [45]

2023 SEC investigation and penalty[edit]

In February 2023, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found that Ensign and the LDS Church had used 13 different shell LLCs across the United States to avoid disclosing an increase in their investment portfolio value from $7 billion to approximately $37.8 billion from 1997 to 2019.[46] As a result, Ensign was penalized $4 million and the church was penalized $1 million.[47] [48] The existence of the shell companies was made public in 2018 by the website MormonLeaks which noticed that the shell company websites were hosted on church servers.[47]

Deseret Ranches[edit]

Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch east of Orlando, Florida, the world's largest beef ranch, is located on over 670,000 acres (1,046 mi²) in Florida. The land is worth an estimated $858 million (as of 1997).[49] The ranch maintains a herd of approximately 45,000 beef cattle, and over 200,000 citrus trees.[50]

The ranch is home to more than 350 species of wildlife, including almost 250 species of birds. Sandhill cranes and the threatened wood stork flourish in the area. Other species of wildlife include white-tailed deer, American alligator, Osceola turkey, wild hog, Florida bass and nesting bald eagles. The ranch has created and manages one of the state’s largest wood stork rookeries, a breeding ground for the threatened birds.[50]

The church has plans to develop a large portion of the ranch into more than a dozen neighborhoods for approximately half a million residents.[51]

Additional holdings[edit]

The following is a partial list of assets known to be owned or controlled by the LDS Church:

Additionally, investigative journalism from the Truth & Transparency Foundation in 2022 suggests the church may be the owner of the most valuable real estate portfolio in the United States, with a minimum market value of $15.7 billion.[59] The church is also known to own banks, hotels and restaurants, real estate development, forestry and mining operations, and transportation and railway companies.[59]

The church's real estate investment arm, Property Reserve, Inc., paid $174.3 million for an industrial park in Hialeah, Florida in or around January 2024.[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Biema, David Van. (August 4, 1997). "Kingdom Come". Time Magazine. Vol. 150, no. 5. Archived from the original on May 13, 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-02. With unusual cooperation from the Latter-day Saints hierarchy (which provided some financial figures and a rare look at LDS church businesses), TIME has been able to quantify the church's extraordinary financial vibrancy. Its current assets total a minimum of $30 billion.
  2. ^ Brunson, Samuel (Spring 2015). "The Present, Past, and Future of LDS Financial Transparency" (PDF). Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 8 (1): 1–44. doi:10.5406/dialjmormthou.48.1.0001. S2CID 181493367. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 4, 2021. In 1915, though, and continuing until 1959, the Church made an annual public disclosure of its finances. As part of the annual April General Conference, somebody—often the president of the Church or one of his counselors—would inform the assembled congregation of how much money the Church had spent in a variety of categories. In 1959, in the wake of significant deficit spending by the Church and of massive investment losses, the Church ended its detailed public financial disclosure, and instead limited its financial disclosure to the Auditing Department report. As a result of its silence about the details of its finances, members, critics, and the interested public have been left to guess at the Church's wealth and the scope of its charitable spending, among other things.
  3. ^ Hinckley, Gordon B. "Questions and Answers - Gordon B. Hinckley". LDS Church.
  4. ^ Hines, Alice (22 March 2012). "What Would Jesus Buy Here?". HuffPost.
  5. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher. "Order to release financial data has LDS Church, courts on collision course". Salt Lake Tribune. July 13, 2007. Accessed 13 July 2007.
  6. ^ [1] Archived 2009-02-17 at the Wayback Machine[2] - provided by the Charity Commission based on the Charities Act
  7. ^ "Charities Listings - Basic search results". 27 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Why Deseret Trust Company?" https://www.deserettrust.com/why-deseret-trust-company?. Accessed 16 Sept 2018.
  9. ^ Belo Corp Form 8-K. "BELO CORP - BLC Unscheduled Material Events (8-K/A) Item 7. Financial Statements and Exhibits". Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-06-04.. Accessed 16 May 2007.
  10. ^ "Financial Planning". finserve.byu.edu. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2008-06-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Accessed 16 May 2007.
  11. ^ "Finance". accredit.byu.edu. See page 9 of pdf document available at "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2009-02-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Accessed 16 May 2007.
  12. ^ a b Taylor, Samuel W. (1978). Rocky Mountain Empire: The Later-Day Saints Today. NY: Macmillan Pub. Co., Inc., 1978, p.65-69.
  13. ^ "Lorenzo Snow". http://historyofmormonism.com/2008/07/08/lorenzo_snow/ Accessed 2013-04-03.
  14. ^ a b c Hinckley, Gordon B. "Of Missions, Temples, and Stewardship". Ensign. November 1995, p. 51.
  15. ^ Godfrey, Matthew C. (2007). Religion, politics, and sugar: the Mormon Church, the federal government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907-1921. Lehi, Utah: Utah State University Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-0-87421-658-5. OCLC 74988178.
  16. ^ Quinn, D. Michael. "The Mormon 'Baseball Baptism' Era". Retrieved 22 November 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Prince, Gregory A.; Wright, William Robert (2005). David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. University of Utah Press. ISBN 0-87480-822-7.
  18. ^ Barnett, Cynthia. "The Church's Ranch". Florida Trend Archives. December 2001.
  19. ^ "President Howard W. Hunter: The Lord's "Good and Faithful Servant". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Church Finances—Commercial Businesses". Retrieved 2013-04-03.
  21. ^ Edgley, Richard; Edling, Wilford G. "Finances of the Church". In Daniel H. Ludlow (ed.). Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan. pp. 507–9.
  22. ^ a b "Mormon church earns $7 billion a year from tithing, analysis indicates". NBC News.
  23. ^ THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS AUSTRALIA, Australia Charities and not-for-profits Commission, 2023
  24. ^ The church of jesus christ of latter-day saints (great britain) - charity 242451. Charity Commission for England and Wales. The register of charities 2023.
  25. ^ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Canada Government of Canada, 2023
  26. ^ "Commentary: The Church and Its Financial Independence", MormonNewsroom.org, LDS Church, 12 July 2012
  27. ^ Nadauld, Stephen D. (1992). "Financial Contribution". In Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.). Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. pp. 509–510. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.
  28. ^ Day, Gerald J. (1992). "Mission President". In Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.). Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. pp. 914–915. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.
  29. ^ Tithing. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. N.D. Accessed December 2, 2023.
  30. ^ The Anchorage Alaska Temple is being relocated and resized. While the new temple is under construction, the existing temple is open and will be decommissioned and demolished after the new one is dedicated.
  31. ^ Why so many new Mormon temples when LDS growth is flat? Religion News Service. May 20, 2021. Accessed December 1, 2023
  32. ^ Hinckley, Gordon B. "The Widow's Mite Archived 2006-09-01 at the Wayback Machine". BYU Speeches. 17 September 1985.
  33. ^ "Budget allowance - LDSTech". Archived from the original on 2019-06-03. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  34. ^ Haight, David B. "The Stake President's Role in Welfare Services - Ensign Nov. 1978 - ensign".
  35. ^ Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Annual Report for 2012 (PDF), LDS Church
  36. ^ Walch, Tad (27 June 2019). "Church announces cost increase for Latter-day Saint missions beginning in 2020, the first change in 17 years". Deseret News. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  37. ^ "Church Announces New Missions, Boundary Realignments: Four new missions to open in July", Newsroom, LDS Church, January 2, 2019
  38. ^ "History of Scouting in the Church". Archived from the original on 2019-08-13. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  39. ^ "Mormon church announces layoffs in two departments".
  40. ^ Hinckley, Gordon B. (November 1997). "Latter-day Saints in Very Deed". Ensign. 27 (11): 85. Retrieved 2013-04-03. A recent magazine article praised us as a well-run financial institution of great wealth. It grossly exaggerated the figures.
  41. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan (20 October 1999). Mormon America. pp. 395–400. ISBN 0-06-066371-5.
  42. ^ Lovett, Ian; Levy, Rachael (8 February 2020). "The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  43. ^ a b Swaine, Jon; MacMillan, Douglas; Boorstein, Michelle. "Mormon Church has misled members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund, whistleblower alleges". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  44. ^ Due to the categorization of Ensign Peak Advisors as an "integrated auxiliary of a church", not a public foundation."$100 Billion In Mormon Till Does Not Merit IRS Attention". Forbes.
  45. ^ "First Presidency Statement on Church Finances: Statement provided in response to media stories", Newsroom, LDS Church, December 17, 2019
  46. ^ "Mormon church investment fund whistleblower explains his Ensign Peak allegations | 60 Minutes - CBS News". www.cbsnews.com. 2023-05-14. Retrieved 2024-02-08.
  47. ^ a b Elizabeth McKernan (2023-02-25). "How the SEC believes the Church hid billions of dollars from the public since 1997". Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  48. ^ "SEC.gov | SEC Charges The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Its Investment Management Company for Disclosure Failures and Misstated Filings". www.sec.gov. Retrieved 2024-02-08.
  49. ^ (Biema, 1997)[full citation needed]
  50. ^ a b "Church-Affiliated Ranch Balances Agriculture and Conservation in Central Florida". churchofjesuschrist.org. April 1, 2016.
  51. ^ "Massive Mormon ranch plan in Florida draws scrutiny". CBS News.
  52. ^ Financial Information Archived 2007-04-07 at the Wayback Machine. beneficialfinancialgroup.com. Beneficial Financial Group. Retrieved on 2006-01-25.
  53. ^ Deseret News Publishing Company is a Subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation a for-profit corporation affiliated with the church [3].
  54. ^ Who’s Buying Nebraska? After shopping spree, Mormon church is top land purchaser. Flatwater Free Press. November 22, 2023. Accessed December 2, 2023.
  55. ^ Duggan, Joe, Mormon land holdings rise. Lincoln Journal Star 2004-10-03.
  56. ^ 2008 Osage County Plat Book, Osage County Conservation District
  57. ^ History from Polynesian Cultural Center website
  58. ^ Pacific Business News (Honolulu), 6 March 2007. Mormon entities contribute $173M to economy. Accessed 2013-04-03.
  59. ^ a b Semerad, Tony (5 April 2022). "New database gives widest look ever at LDS Church landholdings. See what it owns and where". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 2023-06-24 – via Internet Archive.
  60. ^ [https://commercialobserver.com/2024/01/mormon-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints-property-reserve-inc/ Mormon Church Buys Miami Industrial Park for $174M. Commercial Observer. January 2, 2024. Accessed January 5, 2024.

Further reading[edit]