Church investments and reporting of financial data

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Articles about Church finances

Church investments and reporting of financial data

Why would the Church put tithing into investment portfolios?

Some individuals wonder why the Church puts tithing into investments instead of donating to the poor. President Gordon B. Hinckley explained that saving some tithing funds is a fundamental principle of Church finances:

In the financial operations of the Church, we have observed two basic and fixed principles: One, the Church will live within its means. It will not spend more than it receives. Two, a fixed percentage of the income will be set aside to build reserves against what might be called a possible “rainy day.”

For years, the Church has taught its membership the principle of setting aside a reserve of food, as well as money, to take care of emergency needs that might arise. We are only trying to follow the same principle for the Church as a whole.[1]

The tithing set aside as a reserve is added to the Church’s investment funds. Bishop Gerald Causse explained the reason for putting saved tithing funds into investments instead of simply holding the tithing in cash or cash equivalents:

In the parable of the talents, the lord who asked for an accounting from his servants chastised the one who had not invested the money entrusted to him but instead had hid that money in the earth. He characterized the servant as “wicked and slothful” for not investing that money for a reasonable financial return. Consistent with this spiritual principle, the Church’s financial reserves are not left idle in nonproductive bank accounts but are instead employed where they can produce a return.[2]

$100 Billion Fund

The Church is rumored to have a $100 billion investment fund.[3] Assuming the Church's investment fund was only used to support the Church's four universities/colleges, that would be a standard investment size for a well-supported university. For example, Harvard University had an endowment fund of $50.9 billion at the end of fiscal year 2022 while enrolling 25,110 students.[4] The endowment fund equates to $2.03 million per student. As another example, at the end of FY2021, Yale's endowment fund was $41.4 billion, with a Fall 2022 enrollment of 14,776 students.[5] Thus, Yale's endowment fund equates to $2.8 million per student. In contrast, the Church's four universities/colleges had a total enrollment of more than 55,000 in 2022.[6] Thus, the Church's $100 billion investment fund would yield $1.8 million per student.[7] From this it is evident that the Church's investment fund would be considered standard even if it applied only to the Church's educational institutions. Of course, the fund applies to much more than just the Church's four universities/colleges.


  1. Gordon B. Hinckley, “The State of the Church,” April 1991 general conference.
  2. Gerald Causse, “The Spiritual Foundations of Church Financial Self-Reliance,” Ensign, July 2018.
  3. See Adam Miller, "The $100 Billion 'Mormon Church' Story: A Contextual Analysis," Public Square Magazine, 20 December 2019.
  4. Harvard University, Financial Report: Fiscal Year 2022, 7, 9.
  5. "Yale reports investment return for fiscal 2022", Yale News, 4 October 2022; "Yale Facts",, accessed 16 May 2023.
  6. "Education,", accessed 16 May 2023.
  7. As of 2020, BYU had a university endowment fund of $2.3 billion. Although this slightly increased the size of investment funds per student for BYU, the increase is small. See "Table 333.90. Endowment funds of the 120 degree-granting postsecondary institutions with the largest endowments, by rank order: Fiscal year 2020", Digest of Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics.

Why does the Church not provide public disclosure of its financial data?

Some have claimed that the Church ought to provide full disclosure of its financial records to members or interested on-lookers. Believing members typically believe that their tithes and offerings are consecrated gifts to God, and do not feel that they need a detailed accounting of their use. That said, the Church complies with all legal requirements for reporting income, business profits, and donations. These laws vary by country and political jurisdiction. But, the Church has no duty to provide more information than that required by law.

"Full disclosure" is a nice slogan or buzz-word, but those who advocate for it do not seem to realize the difficulties with it, or the fact that doing so would not provide much more information than is available now without considerable time and expense. Many critics would also likely be impossible to satisfy on this front, and complaints would then turn to micromanaging and Monday-morning quarterbacking Church expenditures.

Financial experts discuss these and other issues here:


Did the Church hide its investments from the SEC?

In February 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States of America accused the Church and its investment company of "filing forms for shell companies that obscured the Church’s portfolio and misstated Ensign Peak’s control over the Church’s investment decisions."[1] However, there were no allegations that the Church actually hid investments or that the shell companies were illegal. In essence, "Because the subsidiaries were all under the control of EPA the SEC believed they needed to file one joint form 13F. No accusations have been made that EPA abused the separate filings to gain advantage, but the separate filings could in theory have made it possible to do so.[2] The Church stated it believes "that all securities required to be reported were included in the filings by the separate companies.[3]

For more detail on the SEC issue, see Church financial reporting to the SEC.


  1. "SEC Charges The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Its Investment Management Company for Disclosure Failures and Misstated Filings," U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, press release 21 February 2023.
  2. Public Square Staff, "Ensign Peak: Clarifying the SEC Announcement," Public Square Magazine, 21 February 2023.
  3. "Church Issues Statement on SEC Settlement", Newsroom, 21 February 2023.

Is the Church guilty of tax evasion?

The Church exists to help people receive eternal life. In order to receive eternal life, we need to receive essential ordinances and live according to God's commandments. These truths affect how the Church uses its financial resources. The Church is also required by gospel principles to be wise with its financial resources.[1]

Where required by law, the Church pays a portion of its financial resources to governments (i.e., pays taxes). "The Church and its affiliated entities pay taxes and other governmental levies as required by the laws of each country in which the Church functions."[2] However, like most institutions and individuals, it is likely that the Church does not feel obligated to give governments more than what is required by law. It would be a strange place indeed where people and organizations routinely chose to pay more taxes than required.

Working to ensure you pay only what the law requires is sometimes called minimizing tax liability or tax avoidance. This is very different from tax evasion, which is intentionally failing to pay required taxes. The Church, as with most other people and organizations that follow wise financial principles, likely strives to minimize its tax liability. However, it does not engage in tax evasion.


  1. See Gérald Caussé, "The Spiritual Foundations of Church Financial Self-Reliance," Ensign, July 2018; adapted from Gérald Caussé, "In the Lord’s Way: The Spiritual Foundations of Church Financial Self-Reliance," address given at the 2018 Church History Symposium on March 2, 2018.
  2. "Church Finances and a Growing Global Faith,", 22 May 2018.