The truth about the donation arrangement

by Wolfgirl 38 Replies latest jw friends

  • Wolfgirl

    I never knew this...just found it today. Made me giggle.

    Payment of sales tax on literature

    On 17 January1990 the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that sales tax must be paid on religious literature. The following month, a letter from the Watchtower Society went out to all congregations stating that there would no longer be a set price for literature but that they would be given to the public on a donation basis. By way of reason the letter stated that "by adopting a method of literature distribution based completely on donation, Jehovah's people are able to greatly simplify our Bible education work and separate ourselves from those who commercialize religion." They also stated in one of their publications that "there are growing pressures against all religious elements" and that their main concern was to move ahead in the worldwide Kingdom preaching work, "without hindrance". [102] The Supreme Court ruling was not mentioned.


  • Stealth453

    Quite a bunch of crooks, aren't they?

  • Oroborus21

    where were you at the time?

    actually what was more fascinating is that in the U.S. and a few other countries the rationale that the new donation arrangement was the result of godly direction and a step in further refinement (essentially the gist of the message) apparently didn't apply worldwide as many countries or most countries did not change to the donation arrangement for many more years.


    (hoping that no one raises the stupid Amicus brief issue saying how WTS was in bed with Swaggart Ministries thus demonstrating their complete lack of understanding what a friend of the court brief means)

  • why144000

    The main reason that the Watchtower Society of Australia ( the legal entity) moved to the donation arrangement was to avoid the (then) new Goods and Services Tax implemented in Australia. I believe that, if someone gained some legal advice it would be proved that the Society are guilty of blatent tax evaision. I visited bethel in Australia before the tax was legislated and had discussions with the treasurers department regarding the issue. It ended in "you say we are and we say we are not". Such is life!

  • Clam

    1. Early 1980 - State of California informs Jimmy Swaggart Ministries that tax is due for religious books and tapes sold in the state since 1974. Swaggart eventually pays the tax--$183,000.00--but sues for a refund. The case begins moving toward the U.S. Supreme Court.

    2. February, 1989 - U.S. Supreme Court rules it is illegal for Texas (and 14 other states) to exempt religious books from sales tax. Some states had been taxing religious books all along.

    3. Summer, 1989 - Society gives away ‘free’ books released at U.S. conventions. Witnesses are asked to place donations in contribution boxes to cover the cost.

    4. June 22, 1989 - The Watchtower Society, files Amicus Curiae ("friend of the court") brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Jimmy Swaggart case. (Others filing similar briefs include The National Council of Churches and The Society for Krishna Consciousness).

    5. January 17, 1990 - U.S. Supreme Court rules against Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, declaring that the sales tax must be paid.

    6. February 9, 1990 - Society writes letter to congregations announcing that literature will no longer be sold at Kingdom Hall and no price will be set in door-to-door distribution.

    7. February 25, 1990 - February 9th letter from Society is read at Sunday meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses across the United States.

    8. March 1, 1990 New policy of distributing literature without naming a price goes into effect.

    9. The March 15, 1990, WATCHTOWER magazine and March 22nd AWAKE!--printed earlier--still say ‘25 cents (U.S.) a copy’ and ‘$5.00 (U.S.) per year.’; The April 1, 1990, Watchtower no longer carries a price.
  • wannaexit

    CROOKS is what they are

  • The wanderer
    The wanderer

    The Watchtower never seems
    to surprize me anymore.

    The Wanderer

  • dedpoet

    The donation arrangement came into effect in the UK in 1992/3 I think, and we were told it was to give greates simplification to our important preaching work. Nothing was mentioned of any tax advantages for adopting it.

    As a previous poster said, the wts are indeed crooks.

  • Pahpa

    The issue always seems to revolve around money or property. The desperate attempt of the Watchtower to defeat these rulings failed. So, the Watchtower put a spin on the situtation to make it seem that this new "contribution" arrangement is charitable and noble on its part. But, in fact, it is instituted only as a means to avoid paying taxes. (What happened to Jesus admonition "render to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar's?")

    It's only the latest effort in a long list of failed "theocratic strategies." The Watchtower was willing to cozy up to the Nazis in Germany in the early 1930s to save its property in Magdeburg. It declared itself a "cultural organization" in Mexico to save its property there. (It even eliminated prayer and religious songs at the meetings.) In Bonham, Texas, it was willing to declare itself a legal "hierarchy" to keep control over the Kingdom Hall. And this is the organization that boasts it is honest and forthright in all its dealings!

  • purplesofa

    Thanks for posting.

    It makes my blood boil when I see stuff like this......seems every decision they make is a reaction to someone elses decision. New Light comes when their money is in jeopardy.


    I think about my Mom in her later years, giving all she has right now to the org, her time and money, draining her and she does not even see it. If things keep up like they are for her, she will be living in a tent, filled with WT literature to distribute.

    And the way they have hooked her.........she has two loved ones that she is doing all she can to be "good" to see them again during the ressurection.

    thanks again for posting...........I will show this to her.

  • Wolfgirl
    where were you at the time?

    At that time, I was still in Ohio, and still a part of the collective. I was in my later teenage years then, still living at home, still completely blind. I remember being relieved I wouldn't have to ask for 50 cents anymore, but didn't like asking for donations at all. I rarely did; it made me feel uncomfortable.

    But I never realised that there was an actual REAL reason behind the change.

  • TweetieBird

    Don't forget that they instituted the donation arrangement after going to the defense of Jimmy Swaggert. When that failed they were only left with the alternative of the donation arrangement. When I found out about that little piece of hypocrisy, I was greatly disturbed.

  • Amber Rose
    Amber Rose

    This is what I find shocking: I probabably rank pretty high on the list of Most Oblivious JWs Ever, plus I was like 10 at the time that they made the change to voluntary contributions. People on this board seem to be shocked that there was a "real reason" for this change yet I always knew that they made the change because they didn't want to pay sales tax. How is is possible that a dumb little 10 year old knew more than some of you. (Not that I'm calling any of you dumb).


  • dannyboy

    Amber is right about the reasons for this change being widely understood by the rank and file. In my area it was widely known that the "donation arrangement" was quickly undertaken to fend off the possibility of having to collect/report sales tax on literature placements.

    Even though I was an elder at the time,I was "naive" about the ramifications of this new arrangement.

    I took the "Society" at its word that literature would be provided free of charge, etc., but didn't catch the implied "wink" in this policy. In the months that followed, every Circuit Overseer visit would result in him hammering us about the "decline" in money forwarded for the [now] "free" literature......even to the point that they would calculate what the total "value" of the literature was that the congregation had been shipped in say the last 6 months [i.e. magazines+books+CD's etc.] and compare that to what was remitted (it was always less of course). It gradually "dawned" on me [yeah I was naive about this], that this new arrangement was "free" to the householders, but certainly not to us members of the congregation.

    So then the thought that *we* (congregation memebers) should be sure we made up the shortfall was gradually introduced until it became the expected thing.

    Bottom line is: The Society's switch in the US to the "donation arrangement" for literature resulted in individual members of the congregations paying for the literature mostly (since householders rarely contributed anywhere near enough overall), further enriching the coffers of the Watchtower organization.

    BTW: This particular issue is the one that actually started me thinking more objectively about my whole religious life, though it took many more years for me to "Get it".


  • Alpheta

    I became associated with the JWs in 1993, and became an unbaptized published in 1994, got dipped in 1996 and left for good in October, 2003. During my entire time associated with the JWs, I never asked anyone for a contribution in the door to door work. Never. I refused to do so, on the grounds that the WTBTS was trying to spread God's true word, and asking for money for such work was, to my mind, filthy - and unnecessary. I believed the hype - I believed that God would support his own true works. I put monthly contributions into the local congregation and WWW boxes at the Kingdom Hall $60 a month ($30/$30 split). Occasionally, very rarely, a person would volunteer some money for a placement. I put any such monies into the WWW box at the KH, but in the years I did the door to door work, it probably totalled all of $6 US. Not even chump change.

    It was only after we got connected to the internet at the office, and I started spending my lunch hours up in the law library (where the only internet connected computers were at the time) and started learning my way around the internet, how to do searches, and such, that I found out about the Swaggert law suit, the WTBTS friend of the court brief(s), etc. It didn't take a genius to discern the real reason for the WTBTS changing it's arrangement from charging a set amount for its literature to the "donation" arrangement. That was less than 3 years after I got baptized. By March, 1999, I got my first desktop at home (a Gateway, great machine, since passed on to a relative). It was thanks to the internet that I learned about Silent Lambs - I missed the t.v. show about the scandal in the JW congregations (see my bio for details) and it was somewhat over a year later that I left for good. The sexual abuse scandal was the "straw that broke the camel's back", so to speak.

    Thank goodness for all the websites that have published this information - put it out there for public consumption. If the WTBTS was really God's organization on earth, it would not be afraid of the internet. In my opinion, it's fighting a losing battle, just like the so-called "Peoples' Republic of China" is fighting a losing battle, trying to keep it's citizens away from the information available on the internet. The Truth WILL come out. Unfortunately, it will take awhile, perhaps a long while, and in the meantime, thousands of people may be sucked in, thousands more people will be hurt by the duplicity of the WTBTS. The bastards of the GB can't croak fast enough to suit me, but even as they die off, they are being replaced by phoney "annointed".

  • codeblue

    Could you picture Jesus EVER asking for a donation? NO!!!

  • codeblue

    He NEVER asked for money.... his motto: you received free, give free.

    Another proof that the JW's don't follow the Bible.

  • kwintestal

    I remember asking for money at doors to "cover the cost of printing". Turns out it cost something like 5 cents to make and they sold for a hefty 400% profit.


  • XU

    I remember the switch. I think I was 14 at the time. It seemed weird that they were switching and I seem to remember some people were disgruntled, but like every other 'open discussion' and open voting, it was accepted. The part that disturbed me later was how they tried to make us feel guilty for the society making less money. I thought why not go back to charging money? I didn't know how skeezy they were yet. But I remember hearing from the stage for us to try and put a price (if we could) on the value of 'life's water free' of Jehovah's pure and delicious spiritual feast, blah blah blah. It's like those Visa commercials and the literature was supposed to be priceless (or a lot of money anyways). My mom has given the society 250$ every month for the last 30 years at least and probably at least 100$ a month since the early 60s. But I had to pay them back for my AAS degree. Dumb-ass es.

  • Fleshybirdfodder

    We were counselled to always add the donation tag-line at the end of any demonstration we did during the service meeting so the brothers wouldn't "forget" to ask for money after a placement.


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