Do we need to keep the tithing envelopes?

by Kathy Butler
(Corning, AR)

We are a small church and have small tithing envelopes that our congregation can choose to use to put their tithes in.

I was told by the retiring secretary that we needed to keep all the envelopes, she said she wasn't sure why, however. Not all of the people who give tithes put it in the tithe envelopes.

Some just put their checks in the offering plate. Some do give cash tithes and they put theirs in the tithe envelopes to be recorded under their name.

I record any loose check or those in the envelopes as giving on the person's giving records. I also record the cash in the tithe envelope.

My question is for IRS purposes or to keep everything legal and above board, am I supposed to keep those tithe envelopes, since not everyone uses one?

Vickey's reply

Contribution envelopes are for the convenience of your church members. There is no law that I know of that states everyone must use a tithe envelope to give their contributions.

As far as how long to keep want to keep them long enough to ensure that if there was a dispute on the exact amount donated you would have the envelopes to look back on.

According to Richard Hammar,an attorney, CPA: You should keep envelopes for at least 6 months after you issue your donors periodic (i.e., quarterly, semi-annual, or annual) summary of contributions, and include in this summary a statement similar to the following: "Any documentation, including offering envelopes, that the church relied upon in preparing this summary will be disposed of within six months. Therefore, please review this summary carefully, and inform the church treasurer of any apparent discrepancies within six months of the date of this summary."

Comments for Do we need to keep the tithing envelopes?

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Feb 14, 2012
Tithe Envelopes
by: Anonymous

My pastor had gone to a Money Management for churches seminar, and was told there that all contributions (tithes, offerings) are to be put into tithing envelopes for IRS purposes. And also was told that they are to keep the envelopes (although I can't remember now for how long).

I'm reading per your site that it isn't necessary. I'm confused now. :-(

Jan 16, 2014
What to do with tithing envelopes
by: Anonymous

I think that when the end of the year giving statement is given to each member

(after all contributions are recorded of course)

along with that statement the member should be given their tithes envelopes as well.

Apr 15, 2014
DestroyingTithing Envelopes
by: Anonymous

Is it ever ok to destroy tithing and offering envelopes because not everyone records the exact amount accurately? If the amont in the envelope is recorded, can you destroy the envelope that day?What does the IRS require?

Jul 28, 2014
Keeping tithe envelopes
by: JoFeene

I attend a Church Mgmt seminar and also when researching Record Retention Guides various income (AR/AP) items are to be kept for 7 years (Churches aren't mentioned but tithe envelopes fall in that category). If you are using an accounting software, financial reports will be retain. Review the guide and judge for yourself.

Dec 27, 2016
I don't see a reason for them
by: Anonymous

I don't think we should use them because God knows if we tithe and it doesn't matter if other people see us because the reason we tithe is to give back to God not to get attention. It is better to do in secret than to do in public for recognition. God sees our motivation so we should check our motivation to tithe. Is it to be approved or give back to God.

Jun 07, 2018
Why should we use tithing env lop?
by: Anonymous

Amen !!

Feb 06, 2019
I Agree to Keep Envelopes
by: Anonymous

Based on my experience in bookkeeping for churches, I think that it is good practice to keep the physical tithing envelope on hand for at least 2 years, and it's even better to make an electronic copy of them to keep for longer.

Tithing envelopes are necessary for the church to record where the donations came from, they help with the checks and balance process by providing an amount to verify totals against when dealing with income, and lastly it contributes to accurate record keeping for the individual's end of the year giving statement(information which churches should make available to their donors).

I am curious however to know if anyone knows if its mandatory to have a physical copy of offering envelopes on hand, or if electronic copies will suffice if ever a situation arose.


Mar 29, 2020
Offering envelopes
by: Anonymous

It is mandatory by law to keep the offering envelopes for seven years.

If a church does not use offering envelopes, they can be shut down.

There was a person at my church wanted all the offerings they gave to the church back.

The church was able to verify the total amount that was given by checking the offering envelopes.

Apr 01, 2020
Retention of Offering Envelopes
by: Anonymous

Our CPA told us the IRS typically will go back in records only three years. We record all offerings in an envelope. An envelope is created for any loose checks in the plate. And envelope is also created for the total of the loose cash in the plate. We retain all envelopes for three calendar (tax) years. The envelopes are the source documents for all contributions.

Jan 22, 2024
Entering envelopes
by: Anonymous

Our envelopes are entered in database, ACS Technogl. Statement printed and issued to members end of year.

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