“What is the Church policy on elders quorums purchasing and selling storage goods?” Ensign, Apr. 1974, 19
Junior Wright Child, managing director, Church Welfare Services The Church policy is easily stated by the following quotation of former President Harold B. Lee:
“… wards and stakes are not to enter into a buying and selling program to their members, and certainly it is not to be done by the Relief Society, the priesthood quorums, nor any other Church units. … We can get into more trouble with our local grocerymen, with our taxing authorities, and with the public generally by entering into a buying and selling program of this sort, which is but competing with the corner groceryman who is struggling to keep a little life in his business. Now I think there can be more harm done than the small good that will be accomplished. We teach the principle of putting aside for the ‘rainy’ day.” (Welfare Conference address, October 6, 1966.)
There are many other implications to this wise counsel. Taxes, both sales and income, play an important part in our lives today. The Church asks us all to comply with these regulations.
When Church units enter into buying and selling programs, invariably they circumvent the paying of some taxes, generally sales tax, and nearly always income tax. The Church cannot and does not condone this circumventing of the law of the land.
Many instances have been reported where Church groups, in their zeal to promote storage, tend to pressure members to support various programs by purchasing items they normally do not use. Because these items are not rotated, spoilage may result. Because of this, some people may have difficulty in supporting and sustaining Church food storage programs.
Because storage is first an individual and second a family responsibility, storage items are very personal, and the family food storage should be tailored to meet the members’ needs.
Recently a program was used that both encouraged Church members to participate in the storage program and also complied with taxation laws. Priesthood quorum members contacted local merchants who stocked the items they desired for storage. Arrangements were made with these merchants for the quorum members to purchase from them the desired items. It was further agreed that if a sufficient volume was ordered, the merchant would make a percentage donation to the quorum, which in effect was a price reduction for volume purchasing.
To locate sources of supply and recommend these to quorum members and to leave the purchasing decisions to the individuals would seem a reasonable and logical approach. This avoids buying and selling arrangements that compete with merchants, and also avoids circumvention of the taxing authorities, which is prohibited.