The Ten Percenters

A nice little money-saver for ‘religious’ employers.

Tax exempt

“Religious” businesses – not just churches, mosques, synagogues themselves, but the businesses they own and run, such as hospitals, schools, care homes, and breakfast cereal manufacturers (Sanitarium – owned by the 7th Day Adventists) – are tax exempt.

Taxpayer funding

Not only are religious businesses tax exempt, but they receive of oodles of taxpayers money (that is, yours and mine), via contracts to run privatised government services, such as employment agencies, e.g., the Salvos. But did you know these businesses have another handy money-saving wheeze that means they effectively pay their staff less?

Employee “tithes”

Employees of religious businesses are encouraged to kick back a percentage of their wages to their employers in the form of a tithe.

The word “tithe” derives from the same root as “tenth”. A tithe is traditionally ten per cent of gross pay – before tax and other deductions.

Tithes are built into the employment contracts of almost everyone who works for a religious business, such as Anglicare, Vinnies or Sanitarium. These employers automatically deduct a tithe from their employees pay, unless the employee elects to opt out. It’s probably paid to the parent religious organisation.

This is one more reason (aside from all that ‘ethos’ stuff), why religious businesses prefer to hire religious employees. They’re less likely to complain about handing a slice of their wages to the church. More susceptible to moral blackmail: “If you’re really committed, why don’t you want to donate?”

You may even see it as an investment in your career. I mean, is a ‘religious’ employer going to promote the person who withdraws from tithing, or the one who happily kicks in their ten per cent per month? As an ambitious employee, are you going to risk sending a signal that money is more important to you than ‘the mission’?

“How good is that?”

No taxes of your own to pay; subsidised by everyone else’s taxes; and your employees pay a tithe to work for you. No wonder religions are so lush with funds, and so keen to protect their privileges.

PS If you work for a “religious” business, you might want to check the small print of your contract!

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)