A commercial targeting the Mormon Church is now airing in Hawaii, calling on viewers to send along tips regarding the Church’s supposed shady business practices. Specifically it’s concerned about the Church’s “Hawaii Real Estate Division — Hawaii Reserves, Inc. (HRI) — for its plan to develop Malaekahana with 875 new homes, a shopping center, and a school.”
That’s what a for-profit business ought to be doing, not a non-profit Church, which appears to be using money it makes from its projects to promote its anti-gay and political agenda.
The ad has aired across other parts of the country since the beginning of the year, but it began airing in Hawaii last week. The goal is to find whistleblowers who can send along credible tips regarding tax fraud, which can then be forwarded to the IRS in order to get the government to revoke the Mormon Church’s tax exemption.
(The minute-long commercial is below, though what’s airing in Hawaii is a 30-second version of it.)
Laie resident Dawn Wasson has been speaking out against the church for decades, but says she still a Mormon.
She’s featured in the ad, protesting the development of Malaekahana.
“You know the church teaches you principles about dishonesty and all that. And when it’s in their backyard, I’m saying you made the rules. I’m following the rules,” said Wasson.
Is there any reason the Church should lose it’s tax-exempt status? Absolutely, says the group.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a registered religious organization under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Tax Code. That means that it does not pay any taxes on its income, which is estimated to be between $8 and $20 billion per year!
Most of its $8 to $20 billion each year goes into Church investments. There have been estimates that the Mormon Church uses just 20% of its tithing funds to fund new Temples and cover the Church’s overhead. Begging the question, where do all these billions of dollars go, and should these investments be taxes like any other business?
Much more money goes into Church coffers each year from profits on its vast business empire, gifts and bequeaths to the Church like real estate, stocks, bonds, and money to build Temples. Once a month on Fast Sunday, hundreds of millions of dollars more come pouring into the Mormon Church.
All its holdings and income would make the Mormon Church’s market capitalization bigger than Exxon Mobil and Apple, Inc., two of America’s largest corporations combined.
We will be looking into whether the Mormon Church pays any property taxes, business taxes, sales taxes or income taxes on its massive business portfolio.
It’s hard to imagine proof of tax fraud that could destroy the Mormon Church will just magically come across the transom via a TV commercial, but if nothing else, the ad raises everyone’s awareness of the problem. It reminds them to keep their eyes out for any weirdness. That’s not a bad thing.