We have been taught and reminded by the best informed and greatest authority in the Church today on Welfare Programs. Over twenty years ago President Romney taught me as a stake president how to perform and carry out the Welfare Program as it has been revealed and directed by the Presidency of the Church.
It is always a great privilege and most encouraging to stand before a body of leaders as we see here this morning. I asked President Kimball if he had any idea how many new bishops and stake presidents we had here this morning. He said, “You might let me know.” Would you please stand, all the bishops and stake presidents that have been appointed since October of last year, please stand. Thank you very much; you are the ones who have been taught. All of those who have been reminded, will you stand, please. Thank you very much. I was going to ask those who haven’t been taught or reminded to stand.
I am always impressed, however, with the number of leaders who are willing to accept responsibility and then set about to learn their duties and perform them. Experiences during the last year have emphasized the importance of the Welfare Program probably more than at any other time. The strikes, the shortages, the sickness, the death of breadwinners, the layoffs, price increases, and the storms that we have just experienced, all point up the great need for preparation. The Lord has shown us the way which, if followed, will prepare us for emergencies and conditions which have been prophesied and which must come. As we keep that in mind, the thirty-six to forty years of the application of this program, if we follow it the way we should, it will help us meet these great crises. The Lord has said that all we need to do is: “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence. He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.” (Doc. & Cov. 107:99–100.)
This morning I have a special assignment to speak to you about a matter that needs very, very careful attention and emphasizes to us a very heavy and exacting responsibility which has been placed upon us by the government, under the tax laws. What I am about to say cannot be overemphasized. The Church is now in a new era regarding its accountability in financial affairs. Until recently we were free to adopt accounting practices and methods to serve our own purposes and to set our own time schedules. Now the federal government and several states have enacted legislation taxing certain incomes of exempt organizations, including the churches. We are now no longer free to pursue our own previous accounting practices. I hope that registers. The method of accounting and the need for classifying and preserving accounting data, exactness in the use of accounting periods, and the content of the information required to be reported in the tax returns are now a matter of strict statutory control. There are severe penalties for failure to meet these requirements. In order to help us meet the requirements of the government on these and other financial matters, we have set up what we call a Finance Committee, headed by Brother Wilford Edling, an expert in this field, and made up of men who understand these principles and are prepared to help in every way possible.
Again I must emphasize the demands are exacting. In order to meet our responsibilities, the Church headquarters must obtain a great deal of detailed information relating to each and every fund-raising project or operation conducted by any organization controlled by the Church, including stakes, wards, quorums, or any fund-raising activities over which the Church has some measure of control or is the beneficiary of the earnings. This does not mean that all activities of this kind are subject to tax, but it is most important that the Church headquarters has the complete information on all these activities, that accurate records be kept, that complete and accurate reports be made punctually when required, and that they contain all the information asked for. In order to get this information and to give the necessary direction to the different wards and branches and stakes and missions, it is necessary for our central committee to get this information and classify it.
Therefore specific requests have been made for complete information relating to the fundraising operations from stake presidents, especially in California. Annual financial reports have been requested from all welfare units in the United States.
Requests also have been made of bishops, stake presidents, and mission presidents for certain other information, including the federal identification number. If any of you are not acquainted with the federal identification number, be sure you become acquainted.
The response to all these requests has been most disappointing. I feel this is because of a lack of understanding of just what is required and how important it is. Again, I cannot overemphasize the importance of getting this information to headquarters as requested. Response to all these requests has been, as I have said, disappointing. Failure on the part of any of the units to make this information available could result in serious legal implications. In order to meet these requirements, there will be need for considerable communication of these matters between the personnel at Church headquarters and the priesthood leaders throughout the Church. The Church headquarters must obtain the necessary information promptly if it is to meet its tax reporting obligations. Again, let me emphasize this. I have used that word a good many times. Let me emphasize the importance of submitting the requested information on a timely, business-like basis, and this will make it possible for you to analyze more clearly and understand more fully just where you stand in your own Welfare Program. If we do not do this, tax problems may become insurmountable. It would not be right or proper for me to go into details at this time, but I am sure the priesthood leaders now understanding this throughout the Church will respond as requested.
We realize and appreciate the heavy responsibility placed on the leadership and particularly the stake presidencies and bishoprics, but we find it necessary for each of you to give this record keeping and reporting high priority in your administration. The gravity of the situation is such that we have required the chairman of the Finance Committee to telephone all of the stake presidents in California who have not responded so that these reports of fund-raising projects will become available, all of whom have agreed to get this information into the Church headquarters as soon as possible.
I am sorry to report that of over 6,000 requests that have been made for the leaders to send in their federal identification numbers, less than half have been received at the present time. This information must be obtained by one means or another. We do ask you to cooperate to the very fullest. If everyone cooperates fully, we feel sure that we will be able to meet the requirements, as onerous as they are; but it must be accomplished before the deadline set by the government. Do respond and cooperate fully.
I have hesitated to speak as emphatically as I have, but it was necessary. If you are having problems and lack understanding of just what is required, kindly contact Brother Wilford Edling here at headquarters and he will give you what assistance you need.
Now this is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is at the head. May we all learn our duty and act in all diligence in the office in which we have been called and appointed and may His blessings attend us, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.