NPR's Planet Money: What Mormons can teach the IRS

Originally published on June 6, 2012 8:10 am

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that each Mormon in good standing should tithe 10 percent of his or her income.

"That's written in stone, and preached from the pulpit," says Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, who is Mormon.

But while the church is very precise about that figure — 10 percent of income — it does not tell its members what income means.

"Which is really interesting to us economists, because we want to know how people define income," says Dahl.

As anyone who has ever done their taxes knows, figuring out what counts as income is harder than it sounds.

On the show today, we look into how Mormons figure out how much to tithe, and what that tells us about how people think about income and taxes.

For More: See our post, "What The IRS Could Learn From Mormons"

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