The 10% Flat Tax: Tithing and the Definition of Income



Developing a fair and widely accepted income definition presents one of the greatest challenges to tax reform. To arrive at a definition separate from the federal tax code, we surveyed 1200 Latter-day Saints about their practice of tithing. Tithing is similar to a flat tax with no deductions, where individuals voluntarily contribute 10% of self-defined income to the church. The results of our survey indicate that most respondents operate on a cash realization basis, which excludes savings and does not allow any deductions. Respondents' income concepts generally do not coincide with current tax laws or economists' views of comprehensive income.