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Taxation of "living allowance" for LDS leaders


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Hi, apologies in advance if this is off topic. I'm a former Mormon (aka Latter-day Saint or LDS), did the whole two-year mission thing, etc. If you're not familiar with the structure of the LDS church, they have a lay ministry of unpaid local leaders. But the hierarchy includes roughly 100 "general authorities" who serve full-time and do not have other occupations.

These are unsalaried positions, but they do receive a living allowance, apparently to cover things like food, clothing, housing, travel, etc. I'm not privy to the amounts or how exactly this is done. My question is why call it a living expense instead of a salary? Is there some tax benefit to doing this? Maybe it just sounds better to the membership?

Any insight or suggestions will be appreciated.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Oye, feo:

This really is off topic.

As with all churches, tax-deductibility is not an issue.

The taxation of the payments are addressed by IRS in the following IRS FAQ's and in IRS publication 517.

If you are not a a tithe-paying member of a church, it is none of your business how much they provide in living allowance or why it is called a living allowance. My tithes and offerings are used for those payments and I don't worry in the least about this non-issue. I know several of the LDS Church leaders personally and they live quite modestly.

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