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Whistleblower: Mormon Church Is Hoarding $100B

He says investment division should be stripped of tax-exempt status
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2019 7:40 AM CST
The angel Moroni statue, silhouetted against the sky, sits atop the Salt Lake Temple, at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
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(Newser) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been hoarding cash that its members thought would be used for charitable purposes, according to a whistleblower who worked at the church's investment division. David Neilsen, a former senior portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors, alleges in a complaint to the IRS that the church has stockpiled around $100 billion in tax-exempt donations, the Washington Post reports. As a registered supporting organization of the church, Ensign is tax-exempt, but Neilsen says it should be stripped of that status because it failed to meet the requirement that it use its funds for religious, educational, or other charitable purposes. He says it could owe billions in taxes—and as a whistleblower, he could be entitled to a reward from the IRS, the Post notes.

In his complaint, Neilsen, who left Ensign in September, says the organization did not use any of its funds for charitable purposes, but improperly spent $2 billion bailing out two church-owned businesses. Mormons are expected to pay tithes of 10% of their income to the church. Neilsen says the church collected around $7 billion a year and transferred $1 billion to Ensign annually after using the rest for operating costs. "Would you pay tithing instead of water, electricity, or feeding your family if you knew that it would sit around by the billions until the Second Coming of Christ?" Neilsen writes in a commentary accompanying the complaint. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins tells the Salt Lake Tribune that it does not "provide information about specific transactions or financial decisions." (Read more Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stories.)

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