Q & A

Should we pay taxes?

Should we pay Income Tax, Council Tax, Valued Added Tax, etc.? Avoiding paying ‘the tax man’ is an all too common practice today. The Bible speaks with clarity on what our duty is in this regard.

Government, according to the Bible, is instituted by God for the overall protection of society. ‘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 honour, then honour.’ (Romans 13:5-7) In the light of what Scripture is teaching, it is definitely wrong not to pay whatever tax is due.

People have questioned the paying of taxes throughout history. Jesus was confronted with this same question by his fellow Jews whose country was occupied by the Romans. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.’ (Mark 12:14-17)

Jesus paid taxes to the Roman government, though it was corrupt, and his teaching for all his disciples is that we too must pay our lawful taxes.

Here in Ireland, we get many benefits from our taxes. These benefits are not always appreciated until one visits Third World countries and sees the hardship so many of this world’s population have to endure. What we take for granted: an ambulance service, a fire brigade service, excellent hospitals, street lighting, police protection and many welfare benefits are almost non-existent in many parts of the world. However, because people have paid their taxes, we have all of these benefits.

Paying tax is a command of God that has to be obeyed. Tax evasion is wrong; it’s an offence against God and can never be justified.