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Mormon church sitting on $100 billion in reserves against tax law, says ex-employee

 
Fascinating report in the Washington Post today about the Mormon church having much more money than anyone seems to have imagined.

The Post was given a secret whistleblower report that was submitted to the IRS, which claims that the Mormon church has an entity, Ensign Peak Advisers, that is supposed to find ways to make use of surplus tithing that would meet IRS requirements for charitable giving, but instead has sat on a fortune now reaching $100 billion, in violation of tax law. According to the report, the church is amassing rather than spending the money in preparation for “the second coming of Christ.”

The complaint was written by an Ensign employee, David A. Nielsen, who left the non-profit company in August and then submitted his detailed and confidential report, with a 74-page narrative and a thumb drive containing images of Ensign documents, to the IRS. But Nielsen’s twin brother, Lars Nielsen, who helped him write up the narrative, decided against his brother’s wishes to give a copy of the report to the Post.

The report claims that not only has Ensign failed to use the tithing money for charitable purposes, but the only two times Nielsen saw the company spend money at all was on for-profit enterprises, to prop up a Mormon church-backed insurance company after the 2008 recession, and to help out a failing shopping center that the church had invested in. Both of those expenditures were made even though church leaders had promised that tithing money would not be used for those projects.

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This story is especially fascinating to us because of our reporting on the Church of Scientology, which is a much smaller organization than the LDS Church (tens of thousands of members instead of 15 million Mormons), but has itself amassed several billion in cash and property despite its status as a non-profit religious organization.

We’ve seen no interest on the part of the federal government to do anything about Scientology’s amassing of billions in wealth. But will the Mormon church find itself in the crosshairs because of the huge amount and that it’s been exposed in a major media outlet like the Washington Post? Should be interesting to watch.

ADDED: We just did the math. Washington Post says the LDS Church has amassed $100 billion from its 15 million members — a surplus of $667 $6,667 per Mormon. Watch how fast the IRS acts. Scientology, meanwhile, has amassed only about $3 billion — but from only 20,000 members, which is $150,000 per Scientologist. And the IRS doesn’t lift a finger.

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