Are we obligated to pay taxes to a corrupt government? Despite the fact that taxes are unjust and administrated unfairly, should we pay taxes or should we refuse? Should we be scrupulously honest with our taxes, or is it OK to “cheat” just a little, if we don’t think we’ll get caught?
Do we, as Christians, owe taxes to the government of this country? No! Should we, however, pay taxes anyway? Yes! Christ commanded you to, in plain language, if you’ll only listen and obey!
Matthew 22:15-17 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
Here is the question. Should we pay tribute (taxes) to Caesar (the government), or not? Well? Should you, or not?
Verses 18-21 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
So I ask you; who’s name is on your dollar bill? Isn’t it the “The United States Of America”? Therefore, render unto America the things which belong to America, and render unto God the things which belong to Him!
But, you may say, income tax is illegal. And it is unfair. And it is corrupt, and arbitrarily administered. And I would agree with you! But do you think it was different 2000 years ago? Let’s see, shall we?
“The publicani were thus an important section of the equestrian order… The system was, however, essentially a vicious one, the most detestable, perhaps, of all modes of managing a revenue... The publicani were banded together to support each other’s interest, and at once resented and defied all interference… They demanded severe laws, and put every such law into execution. Their agents, the portitores, were encouraged in the most vexatious or fraudulent exactions, and a remedy was all but impossible.” (Smith’s revised bible dictionary, 1999, article on “Publican”, emphasis mine)
The I.R.S. may be an evil organization, but it is no more evil, in fact less so, than the system of the Publicans who received taxes in Jesus’ day. According to Smith, they were the most detestable of all modes of managing tax revenue. And yet Jesus said to render unto them tribute! Let’s see what else the Bible says about this.
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Let’s make this clear; every power is ordained, or put into office, by GOD! And there is no power that men have that GOD didn’t give them! So your president, your sheriff, and yes, even your tax collector was put there by God as the man who was needed for the job! As the man YOU and your country DESERVED, and NEEDED, for the job! Now read on!
Verse 2 …Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
If you resist that power, and fight it, you are fighting against the appointment of God, and fighting against God himself and condemning His judgment! And you WILL receive judgment for so doing!
Verses 3-4 …For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
This man is the minister of God to you! For GOOD! And if you do good, and obey the speed limit, and pay your taxes, you will have praise of them! But if you do that which is evil, and don’t wear your seat belt, and don’t PAY your taxes, BE AFRAID!!
For he bears not the sword in vain – he is God’s minister to execute WRATH on evil doers! If you refuse to pay taxes, you do so without any support from God! And if it was your sin, and your rebellion which got you thrown in prison, God will let you rot there until you pay every last cent you owe!
Matthew 12:58-59 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, THOU SHALT NOT DEPART thence, till thou hast paid the VERY LAST MITE.
Romans 13:5-7 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. FOR THIS CAUSE PAY YE TRIBUTE ALSO: for they [Publicans, the I.R.S.] ARE GOD’S MINISTERS, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Render their DUES! PAY your taxes – not part of them, not some of them, but ALL that is due to them! WHY, you may ask? For GOD’S SAKE!
1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
You are to honor these men for the LORD’S SAKE! This is not about you anymore – and it’s not about fair, or whether they are right or wrong in demanding this of you – this is about HOW YOU REFLECT ON YOUR MASTER!
Verses 15-18 …For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward...
Not only be subject, or obedient, to the fair, the good, and gentle, but also to your EVIL masters! Obey them, even when they are unjust – unless, of course, they command you to do evil. That, of course, you cannot do – but I ask you… is it against God’s law for you to pay taxes? Is it contrary to the law of God that you wear a seat-belt? I think not! Therefore, God says to be subject to them!
Verses 19-21 … For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Christ, Himself, paid taxes to Caesar, and left us that example to follow! Christ “SUFFERED” by paying His unjust taxes, and LEFT YOU THAT EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW! And if anyone should have been exempted from unjust taxes, it should have been Him!
Matthew 17:24-26 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
Those who don’t want to pay taxes stop quoting right here! And if this was all it said, it might indeed prove that you needn’t pay taxes! But it wasn’t! Christ continued and said…
Verses 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them FOR ME AND THEE.
Christ paid taxes for Himself and Peter! And He did this, not because EITHER ONE OF THEM OWED TAXES! Any more than YOU, or I, as pilgrims, strangers on this earth, owe taxes! But He paid them SO THAT HE WOULDN’T CAUSE AN OFFENCE!
He paid them so that they wouldn’t “speak against Him as an evildoer”! So that the TRUTH that He had to say wouldn’t be clouded by the issue of not paying taxes! Whether you pay taxes or not isn’t going to help you, or anyone! And so you AVOID CAUSING AN OFFENSE OVER SOMETHING THAT IS NOT IMPORTANT TO ANYONE!
And notice where Peter got the money. A fish’s mouth. From a miracle, a monetary blessing of God, he got the money to pay the taxes. God knows you don’t owe taxes! God isn’t poor – and He isn’t unfair!
Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
If you pay a tax you do not owe, and if you pay that tax because GOD TOLD YOU TO, God is not unrighteous to forget that! HE WILL MAKE IT GOOD! If you trust God, He is both ABLE, and WILLING to cover any money that you spend on taxes in His name.
And He WILL do so! But He will expect you to show the FAITH in Him, and the willingness to OBEY His word without knowing how you’ll get the money to pay for it, before He will lead you to a fish’s mouth!
So, if you want to cause an offense, do it over keeping the Sabbath, or not keeping Christmas! Cause an offense over not stealing! But Christ left us an example to pay taxes, and you are OBLIGATED, before GOD, to pay that, or you will pay the price the government demands of tax evasion! And if you are imprisoned as an evildoer, God will let you rot in prison until you’ve paid your debt!