A whistleblower complaint filed at the IRS by a Mormon Church member who was a senior portfolio manager at the church's investment division until September alleges that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has amassed $100 billion in investment accounts from members' tithes which were supposed to be used for charitable purposes.
The 74-page document filed by David A. Nielsen accuses church leaders of misleading members by stockpiling funds in investment vehicles instead of using them for charitable purposes, and using tax-exempt donations to keep two businesses afloat.
The Mormon Church's investment division is a company named Ensign Peak Advisors. Since it is registered as a "supporting organization and integrated auxiliary" of the church, it operates as a religious nonprofit largely exempt from U.S. taxes — provided that it operates exclusively for "religious, educational, or other charitable purposes." The whistleblower complaint alleges that Ensign Peak has given away $0 toward such purposes in its 22-year existence.
Nielson also alleges that Ensign Peak used $2 billion over the past decade to bail out a church-run insurance company and a shopping mall in Salt Lake City that was a joint venture between the church and a private real estate company.
Internal accounting documents show that Ensign Peak's portfolio has grown from $12 billion in 1997 to about $100 billion today.
According to the Washington Post:
"In a declaration signed under penalty of perjury, Nielsen urges the IRS to strip the nonprofit of its tax-exempt status and alleges that Ensign could owe billions in taxes. He is seeking a reward from the IRS, which offers whistleblowers a cut of unpaid taxes that it recovers."
The Mormon Church regularly collects about $7 billion per year in tithes, according to the document — roughly $6 billion of which is used to cover operating costs, with the remaining $1 billion plowed into investment vehicles.
The church also owns real estate worth many billions of dollars.
In the complaint, Nielsen castigates the church for owning exorbitant wealth yet demanding tithe money from members who are struggling financially, saying, "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?"
? Nielsen's whistleblower complaint provides the most comprehensive look into the secretive finances of the Mormon church — and reveals a fortune that far exceeds prior estimates.