Taxes And What God Expects

We finished our taxes today and it feels so good to get our books closed for 2004. Taxes are one of those things in life, like one’s weight, that you try to minimize as much as possible. Fortunately for us our accountant is also a longtime friend and her visits are more than just doing the books; they are also a chance to catch up and share what is going on in our lives. Since she now has a child we don’t get to see her and her husband like we once did.

Taxes are always a contentious subject. Jesus paid the temple tax.

But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a fourdrachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours. Matthew 17:29

Would that we all could find our taxes in the mouth of a fish. Later, in a passage more applicable to our current situation, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with a discussion over paying taxes to Caesar.

Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:17-21

The precedent appears to be if you use a government’s money, and they levy taxes, then you should pay them. This is further supported by Paul’s position in his epistle to the Romans.

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:5-8

I include verse 8, which in most versions that paragraph the text put it in the next paragraph, because I believe it applies. Taxes are a debt to be paid to the government and we are not supposed to be debtors, even with our taxes. So we should pay them when they are due.

We should also be scrupulously honest in their assessment, including all required income and taking only legitimate deductions. By all means, fairly reduce the tax to its lowest possible amount, but as Paul notes, because of conscience we should do only what is right and proper. The issue is not whether or not we will get caught or if we can get away with something, but is this the right and honest thing to do, for even if the government would never know, we and God will know.

It feels good to get our forms finished ahead of the deadline and as to our payout of funds, I believe God will honor our faithfulness and not withhold his blessings in the future.

I pray that you too are successful in completing your taxes on time and that God will also shower his blessings on your future. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.