If a person has paid tithing on their gross income while they worked, should they also pay tithing on their social security after they retire?
Many requests have been sent to the First Presidency asking for a definition of what comprises a full tithing. They have been uniform in answering these questions by referring to D&C 119: “4 And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord. President Kimball speaking on tithing in General Conference October 1980 defined “interest” as income.
In another Conference address, President Kimball stated: “The salaried man complained: ‘My neighbor has a farm. His family lives upon it. We buy our living from a store with cash. They kill a beef, a pork, and feed themselves from their deep freezer. Their garden loads the table with vegetables, the field feeds the cows that furnish milk products, their farm grows wheat for the poultry and for the table, and the hens furnish meat and eggs. Do you pay tithes on your farm land production?’ The answer is, ‘Of course, you pay if you are true to your commitments.” This is how the early members of the Church lived and they would pay tithing in kind on that which they raised on their farms.
If we pay tithing as we are credited with interest on our savings, we do not need to pay tithing when the funds are withdrawn. If we do not pay tithing when the interest or earnings are credited, then we need to pay tithing when the funds are withdrawn.
With Social Security and other types of retirement accounts, we need to remember that the company we worked for also invested funds on our behalf which was not reported with our gross income. When we receive payments from these types of accounts, including Social Security, we need to pay tithing on any portion we have not previously paid tithing on. In the case of Social Security we would need to pay tithing on at least half of what we receive. Technically we should pay tithing on any funds received over and above that which we have previously paid tithing on.
Because of the great blessings the Lord has promised to those that pay their tithes and offerings, we would be well to err on the side of paying too much tithing, rather than not enough. We have all read the great promise in Malachi 3: “10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” Verse 11 is was very meaningful to those in the days of Malachi as well as farmers today as it promises a good harvest to those that pay their tithes and offerings. In D&C 64 the Lord further promises: “23 Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.” Because of this promise, many refer to the payment of tithing as great fire insurance.
While on my mission, my companion and I were informed by the Branch President that a convert we had the privilege of teaching was paying more in tithing than ten percent of his earnings. We visited with him to make sure we had taught him the principle of tithing correctly. He reminded us on the promises the Lord had given and that he had decided to pay tithing on the amount of income he wanted to be earning. In a few short weeks he received a promotion at work and a pay raise commensurate with the amount he had previously been paying tithing on. There is not enough space to relate all the great stories of the blessings that have come to those that pay an honest tithe. This is a commandment that each us would do well to follow correctly.