Taxes: Basic Biblical Principles

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

Hello all!

In response to a reminder (or friendly prodding) from a long time friend, I would like to share a few thoughts on taxes. I would like to base them only on what the Bible says concerning the issue and will not discuss other practical or philosophical arguments that also merit consideration. This post will not be a comprehensive study by any means, merely a highlight of fundamental biblical principles that I believe have been largely forgotten. I do not necessarily believe the Bible speaks frequently or with can’t-miss-it clarity to the issue of taxes. But, I do believe the Bible speaks to the issue with more than adequate clarity, thus eliminating any excuse on our part not train our minds to think in a biblical orientation on the issue.

First, a disclaimer. I am not touching on the “render unto Caesar” principle in this post because I think it is the most universally known and understood of all biblical principles relating to taxation, so in the interest of time I am not devoting space to it in this post.

Here goes!

-Men have a right to all the fruits (i.e. end result) of their labor, and to use them in the manner they choose

II Timothy 2:6 states: “The hard working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.”

I Timothy 5:18 says, “For the Scripture says ‘YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING’, and, ‘the laborer is worthy of his wages’.”

Deuteronomy 25:4 says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.”

These passages, as well as others, teach clearly that men have a right (and a responsibility) to receive and manage ALL of their wages. I believe an income tax violates this principle by unnecessarily taking a percentage of a person’s wages away from him. I also believe capital gains taxes violate this principle for the same basic reason, only in the case of capital gains taxes they are taxing the wages of a person before he or she receives it instead of after. Withholding (keeping a certain amount of a person’s total salary from being included in the check received by the employee in order to pay for certain benefits) also violates this principle, I believe.

-The state has no right to tax the private possessions of a man


If you believe that a person has a right to own what he has earned, I believe it is then logical to agree that imposing an unnecessary tax on that person's private property is also wrong. Therefore, I believe it is logical and biblical to conclude that Property Taxes are wrong.

Ecclesiastes 5:19. It says, “Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” So, it is plain that riches and wealth are a gift from God, and it is a God given right of man to use and rejoice in the fruit of his labor.

Before I move on I think it is important to make a short disclaimer here. In our system of government we are not taxed without representation. Laws concerning taxes are instituted by elected representatives of the citizens, so in theory we tax ourselves through our elected officials. Thus, taxes can be justly and lawfully levied on behalf of the people with the consent of the people; so make no mistake, I am not opposed to taxes. I am only opposed to certain kinds of taxation. Others I am very much supportive of.

-Men have a right to pass ALL their possessions on to their children as an inheritance


I’ll cheat here thanks to time constraints. The following quoted section is from a David Barton article found on www.wallbuilders.com titled “The Bible and Taxes” (04/27/2006).

The Bible speaks to the issue of inheritance numerous times. Proverbs 13:22 states “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (something that is not likely with the current Estate Tax which can take up to 55% of an estate, leaving 45% to the children; when the children pass it on to the grandchildren, up to 55% of the remaining 45% can be taken. Leaving only 27% of the original that would be passed on to the “children’s children”). Ezekiel 46:18 states that “the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property.” Other scriptures that deal with inheritance are Proverbs 19:14, I Chronicles 28:8, and Ezra 9:12.”

I agree with Barton. If people have the right to the fruits of their labor then they must also have the right to pass that on to the person or persons of their choosing, especially their family.

In summary: as previously mentioned, the above is by no means an exhaustive study of what the scriptures say in regards to the issue of taxation; but, I believe we have seen enough to conclude that all riches are from God both as reward and blessing. God has endowed man to have the free use of them, to rejoice in them and to pass them on to their children and their children’s children. Therefore, it is a violation of God given rights to unlawfully take from the wages of man or to take of his property without his consent. Principally, I believe Income Taxes, Property Taxes, Inheritance Taxes, Capital Gains Taxes, and Withholding are biblically dubious at best, and clearly contrary to God’s will at worst. I personally hold the latter view.

As usual, I welcome comments. This issue is not one I am experienced in handling, and I am still learning a lot - at least I hope I am. I am definitely open to corrections and challenges and am willing to change my position if I can be persuaded that my position is in need of change.

God bless and veritas supra omnis!

7 comments:

Sir Emeth Mimetes May 5, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

Mark,

That is a great start! If you read Ludwig Von Mises's "Human Action" (which I am slowly working my way through), he will conclusively demonstrate that the above forms of taxation that you decry from a Biblical point of view, are economically destructive to society. God's way is always best!

Something that he pointed out, which I see also in Scripture, is that taxing anything, no matter what it is, has a destructive effect if it is too high. On the other side, almost anything can be taxed (to a degree) if it is low enough. Interestingly, a Biblically based nation does not need very much revenue anyways.

I have more, but am focusing on articulating my other Bible study for now. :) I will be eagerly watching your studies (I am hoping they will be continued?).

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Andrew May 5, 2009 at 10:10 PM  

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the tax issues, Mark. I do have a few questions.

Since the "Render unto Caesar" passage is the most direct (in my opinion) teaching that Jesus gave in reference to taxes collected by a government, how can you have a discourse about taxes and government and not include this passage?

Considering the passages in Matthew and Luke that advise the believer to give his cloak also if his coat is taken, did Jesus teach that his followers had a RIGHT to anything material? What kind of treasures are the believer to store up?

Would your views on this matter change if you were to step out of your "American citizen" skin and take the view of the "pilgrim and stranger" whose citizenship is in a heavenly kingdom?

Anyway, just some questions that I have and still do consider in relation to these tax matters. Take care.

Mark Hutchins May 6, 2009 at 2:23 PM  

Sir Emeth: I have long maintained that one of the most powerful evidences of God's existence, Sovereignty, and Truth of His Word is the fact that His ways are best on basically all counts...even if you aren't necessarily adhering to them for the right reasons. Obviously, you can't receive a full measure of His blessing without acknowledging His Lordship, but there are still the blessings inherent to original design and natural law (a concept very much central to the thinking of our Founding Fathers, whether religious or not).

Andrew: I agree that you cannot have a complete discourse on this subject without including "render unto Caesar" and giving it a central place in the discourse, but as I mentioned in my post, my post was not a complete discourse, only a highlight of certain important principles and (I may not have made this part clear) principles we have largely neglected to consider.

I gladly "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" because I am commanded to by God. But, since we are able to influence the taxes we pay by electing those who makes laws I believe we shouldn't allow our willingness to "render" to discourage us form striving to promote a Godly and Biblical ideal in our government.

Andrew May 6, 2009 at 3:25 PM  

Mark,

I realized after I posted my comment, that I worded the first question a little strongly. I understood what you were trying to do(I think) and was just throwing out the thoughts that came to mind.

Did Jesus teach that his followers should strive to promote Godly ideals in the secular government (of his day or ours)? Does this striving draw us closer to the Lord and help us to have a greater love for those that we have political disagreements with?

Nathan May 13, 2009 at 4:42 PM  

Nice post, Mark!

Sorry for not saying anything more profound, but I can't think of anything at the moment... Life is so dull when you make a post I agree with, haha... :)

Hillary Hipps June 22, 2009 at 1:04 PM  

I was just mentioning that I don't think anyone would be offended if you decided to make another blog post...

Carin Polczynski June 24, 2009 at 8:59 AM  

http://www.americanvision.org/article/socialism-christianity-and-taxation/

Just a short article that might interest you.

Gary Demar of American Vision has some of the best books out there on sorting through the government structure - at every level- via Scripture. (Not sure what you're studying - just checked out this post) Blessings!

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