Despite amassing some $100 billion dollars in accounts meant for charitable purposes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pressed struggling members to tithe while bailing out a church-run insurance company and a shopping mall with billions, a new whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service alleges.
The confidential complaint was filed at the IRS on Nov. 21 by David A. Nielsen, a 41-year-old Mormon who worked as a senior portfolio manager at the church’s investment division, a company named Ensign Peak Advisors until September. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post which shared details from the complaint.
Nielsen’s complaint, The Washington Post said, sharply criticizes church leaders for continuing to ask for tithes, even from members who are struggling financially, while the church hoards it’s impressive fortune.
“Would you pay tithing instead of water, electricity, or feeding your family if you knew that it would sit around by the billions until the Second Coming of Christ?” he wrote in a 74-page narrative that accompanied his complaint, according to the Post.
Some $2 billion from Ensign has been used over the past decade to bail out church-run insurance company, Beneficial Life, and a shopping mall in Salt Lake City, which was a joint venture between the church and a major real estate company, the report said.
In addition to accusing church leaders of using tax-exempt donations to bail out the two businesses, it accuses church leaders of misleading members by stockpiling their surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works. This allegation suggests a possible breach of federal tax rules.
Nonprofit organizations, including religious groups, are exempt in the United States from paying taxes on their income. Ensign, the Washington Post notes, is registered with authorities as a supporting organization and integrated auxiliary of the Mormon Church.
While Ensign, due to its exempt status, is required to operate exclusively for religious, educational or other charitable purposes, Nielsen argues that the firm has not met that criteria. He also alleges that the firm could owe billions in unpaid taxes and is urging the IRS to strip the organization of its tax exempt status.
Nielsen’s twin brother, Lars P. Nielsen, a healthcare consultant in Minnesota who helped prepare the complaint to the IRS, said his brother was “dejected” by the manner in which the church has been operating.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair