Render Unto Caesar… Is it “Christian” to pay taxes?

Uncle Sam

Here are a few everyday taxes that  we “pay our fair share of” for you to ponder. There are hundreds more.

Federal Income Tax
State income Tax
Payroll Tax
Social Security Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
State Sales Tax
Gasoline Tax (Federal and State)
Utility taxes (Water, Gas, Sewage, Electric, Cable TV, Phone, etc.)
Various licenses (Just a Tax by Another Name) for Hunting, Fishing, Marriage, etc.
Car Taxes (License Plate, Transfer taxes, New Car Surcharge, Motorcycle, etc.)
Hotel Taxes
School tax (State and Local)
IRA and Investment Taxes and Penalties
Inheritance Tax (Federal and State)
Small business Taxes (Too Numerous to List)
Dog License/Permit (Tax by Another Name)
Air Travel Taxes
Boat Tax (Watercraft, etc.)
Gift Tax

I have heard it argued that it is, in fact, the Christian’s duty to pay taxes. And that it is the Christian’s Biblical responsibility to pay them blindly, without question or hesitation. Please allow me to be just a little nit picky here. First of all, one does not pay taxes, taxes are taken. Taxation is coercive. No matter how noble the cause, no matter how justifiable the ends may seem to be; if you forcibly take income from one person to give to another it is theft and it is immoral. Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, whatever the excuse, it is immoral and is nothing less than theft. In the book of Luke (KJV) Jesus said, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Jesus did not say or imply that the government, or your neighbor, should take your belongings, keep a portion of it, and distribute it to whomever. Nor did He say the taking of your property or wealth was acceptable by majority vote. Which would mean to any reasonably thinking person that taxation is not justifiable for any reason, whether it be noble or not. The majority of taxes are not allocated for noble causes in the least. Your tax dollars are funding illegal and immoral wars, abortions, erroneous and failed social programs, foreign “aid”, government salaries and pensions, and thousands of faulty projects, boondoggles, and bridges to nowhere. You and millions of others are funding, without a voice, an out of control, immoral, and wicked behemoth.

It is laughable to hear the term “government funded” thrown around so flippantly when it comes to government’s pet projects, grants, social programs, and so forth. How could an entity that does not produce anything have any honest means to provide anything? Government does not produce anything because it uses coercion to fund itself. The very heart of the state is taxation. Taxation, especially the income tax, is immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional. You would be hard pressed to discover any genuine constitutional scholar that could successfully argue the legitimacy of the income tax. Nor would you find a true teacher of the Gospel teaching a legitimate Biblical excuse for such an obvious and unjust crime against an individual. Your wealth is being robbed from you at an increasingly alarming rate. There are a plethora of taxes with new ones being voted to law on a regular basis. As of 2014, the number of pages in the federal tax code was 74,608! Imagine how long the tax code will be in thirty years. Perhaps in the future the governemt will abandon taxes altogether, control all of your income, and give you a stipend? It is not an outlandish statement considering the enormity of the tax code, the out of control spending from the government, and the increasing number of politicians and government employees who bleed the system. So the next time someone puffs out their chest to brag about what the government does with our money, just remember Washington, DC, per capita, is one of the richest cities in the world. Remember that the next time you struggle for money to pay for gas so you can drive to your second job. All the while your representatives in DC are being driven to their elitist functions and parties by their driver in a government owned vehicle with gas you paid for.

The biggest argument I hear from Christians who are so eager to do their civic duty and pay taxes is from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 22:15-22 (NIV). Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax 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 image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Your immediate response to this would be to take it at face value with a knee-jerk reaction saying, “Yeah, there it is. Jesus condones and promotes taxes… So you better pay your fair share!” But that is a very easy and shallow argument. The best teaching I have ever heard on this scripture is from Jeff Barr. Among other things he says: “Over the centuries, theologians, scholars, laymen, and potentates have interpreted the Tribute Episode incorrectly as Jesus’ support for the payment of taxes. First, this interpretation does not square with the political climate of the times. The Tribute Episode is set in the middle of a decades-old tax-revolt against Caesar’s tribute. Second, the rhetorical structure of the Tribute Episode, itself, contradicts any interpretation that Jesus supported paying taxes. Third, the Gospels contain episode after episode of subtle sedition. The Tribute Episode is just another of these subtly seditious scenes. When seen in the context of subtle sedition, the phrase “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” means that the emperor is owed nothing.”

It is no more a Christian’s duty to pay taxes as it is for the Christian to knock on their neighbor’s door and take their wallet at gun point. Charity is not supporting the government taking people’s wealth and redistributing it and stated very plainly it is supporting stealing. Even if it is done by majority vote, because theft by majority vote is still theft. True charity is voluntarily giving one’s own money, from the sweat of their own brow, without threat or law.

Ephesians 4:28 (NIV) Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

 

 

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