It is my understanding that tithing moneys given to the church are not used for charitable purposes by the church, but for "building up the kingdom of God" (i.e. new churchs, temples, operating costs, etc...)' Tithing (10% of one's income) is a commandment to Mormons, and is required by the church to attend Mormon temples (which is required to return to live with God). The church encourages "fast offerings," which are used by the church for charitable purposes, but they are not required. The suggested donation amount for fast offerings is the equivalent of two meals per month.
Excerpts of Utahns are nation's most charitable by Lee Davidson, Deseret News.
Utahns give far more of their income to charity than any other Americans, a Deseret News study of Internal Revenue Service tax data shows.
Utahns reported providing $2.9 billion to charity in 2006, or 5 percent of their adjusted gross income.
Nationally, Americans gave an average of 2.3 percent of their income that year -- or less than half of what Utahns provided.
Economists, politicians and officers of nonprofits say most Utah donations go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which tackles many of the state's charitable needs. Other Utah groups, from the United Way to political parties, say they raise less here than organizations similar to them in other states.
In short, they report tough fundraising among very charitable people.
How much Utahns give to charity varies greatly in different ZIP codes. It ranges from a high of 11.4 percent of income in a downtown Salt Lake City ZIP code surrounding Temple Square and LDS Church headquarters to a low of 0.07 percent in the ZIP code for the University of Utah.
Also, Utah taxpayers in richer categories do not always pay more of their income to charity than do less-fortunate brackets.
The church teaches its faithful to give 10 percent of income as tithing and to skip two meals the first "fast" Sunday of every month to give the money saved or more to help the needy. It also raises money for humanitarian work worldwide, for missionary work and for educating Mormons in Third World countries.
"One of the studies that I've seen in the past showed that if giving to religious organizations is excluded that we (in Utah) fall down pretty dramatically."
Giving the biggest proportion of their income were the 113 people who filed tax returns with addresses in ZIP code 84150 -- a small area including LDS Church office buildings and Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. That ZIP has no residences, so those filing likely work for or are officials of the church.
They gave 11.4 percent of their average adjusted gross income to charity.
Others in the top 10 ZIP codes were heavily concentrated in Utah County.
That top 10 includes: 84662 in Sanpete County's Spring City, 10.07 percent; 84604 in Provo, 8.74 percent; 84649 in Millard County's Oak City, 8.73 percent; 84004 in Alpine, 8.72 percent; 84042 in Lindon, 8.52 percent; 84664 in Mapleton, 8.5 percent; 84097 in Orem, 8.46 percent; 84710 in Kane County's Alton, 8.41 percent; and 84003 in American Fork, 8.24 percent.
A list of how much was given in each Utah ZIP code where at least some residents itemized deductions is available online at deseretnews.com.
On the other end of the spectrum, the ZIP code where tax filers reported giving the least of their income to charity was 84112 around the University of Utah. Of course, students tend to make little money and have less reason to itemize deductions on tax returns. (Several other ZIP codes had no one itemize deductions.)
Several ZIP codes where few charitable deductions were reported are on Indian reservations. Among them were 84026 in Ouray on the Ute Reservation, 0.29 percent of income; 84534 in Montezuma Creek on the Navajo Reservation, 0.31 percent; and 84512 in Bluff near the Navajo Reservation, 0.42 percent.
By sheer dollar amount -- not percentage of income -- the 1,850 people who itemized charitable deductions in ZIP code 84004 in Alpine reported giving the most, $25,495 each.
Behind them were 84150 (the ZIP with LDS Church headquarters), $18,827; 84781 in Washington County's Pine Valley, $16,192; 84604 in Provo, $16,112; and 84662 in Spring City, $14,987.
The bracket that pays the least, just 1.5 percent of income to charity, are those who make between $10,000 and $25,000.
But they are not the poorest income bracket. Below them are those who earn less than $10,000 a year. But they give more to charity, 3.2 percent of their income.