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What does the Bible say about paying taxes?

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Question: "What does the Bible say about paying taxes?"

Answer:
In Matthew 22:17-21, the Pharisees asked Jesus a question: "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." In full agreement, the Apostle Paul taught, "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" (Romans 13:6-7).

Federal income tax, state income tax, local income tax, sales tax, property tax, personal property tax, capital gains tax—the list could go on and on. Statistics show that, in the United States, April 15, tax day, is one of the most stressful days of the year. The Internal Revenue Service is probably the most despised government organization. Similarly, tax collectors were not thought highly of in Bible times (Matthew 11:19; 21:31-32; Luke 3:12-13).

As much as we hate taxes, as much as the tax system is corrupt and unfair, as much as there are far better things our money could go towards—the Bible commands, yes, commands us to pay our taxes. Romans 13:1-7 makes it clear that we are to submit ourselves to the government. The only instance in which we are allowed to disobey the government is when it tells us to do something the Bible forbids. The Bible does not forbid paying taxes. In fact, the Bible encourages us to pay taxes. Therefore, we must submit to God and His Word—and pay our taxes.

The most frequent objection to paying taxes is that the money is being misused by the government or even used for evil purposes by the government. That, however, is not our concern. When Jesus said, "Give to Caesar...," the Roman government was by no means a righteous government. When Paul instructed us to pay taxes, Nero, the most evil Roman emperor in history, was the head of the government. We are to pay our taxes even when the government is not God-honoring.

We are free to take every tax deduction that is both legal and honest. We do not have to pay the maximum amount of taxes possible. If the government allows you a tax break, take it. If there is a legal way you can shelter some of your money from being taxed, shelter it. By all means, take the deduction for your children, your mortgage, your moving expenses, etc. Again, feel free to take every legal and honest opportunity to reduce your tax burden. Illegal and/or dishonest methods must be rejected. Romans 13:2 reminds us, "Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

Recommended Resources: How to Manage Your Money: An In-Depth Bible Study On Personal Finances by Larry Burkett and Logos Bible Software.


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What does the Bible say about paying taxes?