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LDS Church responds to claims it’s stockpiling billions of dollars

Utah

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The organ in the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in December. | Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has responded to claims that the church has stockpiled as much as $100 billion.

The First Presidency of the church says its funds are “methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future. … Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information.”

The entire statement from the church can be read here.

A whistleblower filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service in November, claiming The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has stockpiled billions of dollars in surplus funds instead of using them for charitable purposes, The Washington Post reports.

The Post wrote that it had obtained a copy of the complaint filed by David A. Nielsen, who The Post says is a member of the church and who worked as a senior portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors, the church’s investment division, until September.

According to the article, his twin brother, Lars P. Nielsen, helped prepare and submit the complaint. The Post also states that David Nielsen had asked Lars Nielsen to “write an exposé.”

The Post wrote that the complaint alleges the church has amassed $100 billion in surplus tithing that it did not pay taxes on. The complaint indicates that there could be billions of dollars of unpaid taxes, some of which may be paid to the whistleblower if recovered by the IRS.

According to The Post’s report, the complaint states that the church collects about $7 billion each year in tithing funds — contributions from members who are instructed to give 10 percent of their income.

The Post states that about $6 billion is used to cover annual operating costs, and the complaint claims that about $1 billion is transferred to Ensign, and some of that is invested.

The complaint reportedly estimates that Ensign’s portfolio value has grown from $12 billion to $100 billion since its creation in 1997.

The Post writes that since Ensign is registered as a “supporting organization and integrated auxiliary” of the church, it is permitted to operate as a nonprofit and benefit from the church’s tax-exempt status.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins responded to FOX 13’s request for comment with the following statement, including links.

This story first appeared on FOX13 KSTU. It is used here with permission.

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