1871 January 2 Letter to William H. Hooper


1871 January 2 Letter to William H. Hooper


A revised tithing statement provides the contributions and credits within the ward, highlighting temple expenses and affirming their tax-exempt status. It underscores that donations to other churches are likewise untaxed and counters assertions that tithing is forced.




T. W. Ellerbeck


William H. Hooper


1870 January 2


Washington, D. C.

Number of Pages



Legal Matters

Salt Lake City, U.T.
Jany 2d 1871.

Hon. W.H. Hooper,

Dear Bro.-

Taggart has made another assessment; he told me so himself to-day, and heaped upon me some more of his vile abuse. If he has ever notified the Trustee in Trust of his intention to make another assessment, or sent him a blank for him to fill out or in any manner whatever ever intimated that it was his intention or wish to make another assessment, neither I nor any of the clerks about the office have any knowledge of, <it> and we all think we would have had if the President had received any notice of <the kind> it, and now he talks of adding penalty for not giving in property. He told me he should give ten days' notice to the

President to show cause why said penalty should not be added, before handing it over to the Collector. I tried to show some reasons why the tithing fund is not taxable;--as, for instance, suppose that you and I and a hundred others who pay our taxes--if we are liable to any who take a fancy to raise a fund to build a hotel, canal, railroad, or to go into any kind of enterprise;--is that fund taxable? No, it is not, until it is invested and an income derived from it.

Our tithing fund is our capital, and hence is no way liable to tax, even if it were not a gift or donation as it is. A fund was gathered by the Rev'd Mr. Foote while east to build a church in Salt Lake City. Was that fund taxed? Are the funds gathered for charitable or benevolent purposes, for tract societies, for Bible societies, for missionary purposes, for the erection of places of public worship, for supporting the poor,--are any funds gathered for any of these purposes taxed anywhere in the land?--unless, by investment they produce an income to such fund, society or association? I think not, and our Revenue Officers know it.

A gift, donation, or contribution to any fund is not taxable until that fund produces an income. Again, it is not specified in the catalogue of things made taxable, and anything that is not specified in the tax <law> is not taxable.

Taggart alleges and says that he has affidavits to prove that the tithing funds have been used for the other purposes, such as building a theatre which does produce an income.-If it were true even, which is not the case, as every dollar used <either> by the President, myself, or any one else, is strictly charged against <us> and the house is <we have> to pay just the same as you or any one else does; but if this were true, does the Church receive any income from it? No, it does not, but it would be due out <an outgo> of the fund itself; and if any body did receive an income from any such diversions of the tithing fund, would it not be income to the individual so receiving it, and liable to taxation in his hands, and not as a Church fund; for, surely, if such be the case the tithing funds are the losers instead of the gainers.

It is granted that if the tithing funds were invested in any way that an income is derived therefrom to the Church, then and in that case that an income would be taxable, although received as a gift. If we are the rascals they take us to be and are continually robbing the Church of its tithing funds, it is the misfortune of the Church but a benefit to the Government, as we would consequently have the more income to pay our revenue taxes from. I trust that you will be able to find somebody down there who has got brains enough to see and ability enough to present the case in plainness, stript of all its verbose caluminating statements endeavored to be thrown around it by Taggart and others. The fact is that these assessments are gottn up against the Church in a spirit of persecutive animosity and are simply vexatious. I have thrown out the above suggestions which I think are tenable and hope that you will get them presented at the proper place at the proper time.

The President is making out a tithing statement from St. George and sending it by telegraph, which Bro. Harrington will bring to you. Bro. Clayton is also making up one, which will be forwarded when completed.

All is well--God bless you now and forever,

Daniel H Wells