In my understanding of the GHI, there is no answer to the question that I have about tithing, so I wanted to throw it out to get some feedback. The question concerns when one should pay their tithing. There are many members of the church who pay tithing on their income the moment that they receive it. Others pay it at the beginning of the month. Others pay it once a year. I am interested in whether or not one method is preferable.
As one’s tithing obligation increases, there are certain incentives to holding on to the money for as long as possible. For instance, to take a round number, if your tithing is $10K, and you choose to save that money in a pretty standard high yield savings account at 5%, you’ll make another $500 by year end. The advantage to the church is that they make an extra $50 in tithing and the advantage to you is that you make $450 for the year. One can imagine that these numbers can be even higher if the money is invested in accounts that have higher returns. The amounts increase greatly for high net worth individuals who could potentially make millions on “saved” tithing.
The problem is not simply one of making more money by saving tithing. Paying tithing early actually costs a great deal more. In this scenario, if you pay your tithing early, it costs you $10000 + $500 in opportunity costs. If you pay it late, it only costs you $10000 +$50 on the interest earned.
Given this scenario, there seems to be every reason to just pay tithing at year end, but my concern is that this might be immoral to “save” tithing money. If the church can get higher returns on your money, shouldn’t you pay early? Sure, it costs you in opportunity costs to pay tithing early, but it also costs the church in opportunity costs to pay tithing late. Where should your financial obligations lie, with yourself or the church? Whose profits should you be trying to maximize?