Does God Want Christians to Pay Taxes?

Does God Want Christians to Pay Taxes? April 15, 2024
This image contains mock examples of items people need in order to pay taxes. This photo was published on April 2, 2019. This photo was taken by Kelly Sikkema on


Does God want Christians to pay taxes? This question comes to mind often as the government takes wages from my hard-earned paycheck. You may also ask yourself this question while completing last-minute forms for the April 15 tax return deadline.

While taxes may be an annoyance, they exist for a reason. Discovering the biblical purpose for taxes will help you have a better attitude while obeying the law and God. 

What Are Taxes?

Definition & The 16th Amendment

Before exploring what scripture teaches about taxes, it is important to have a basic understanding of the term. 

Taxes are “a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities.”

The government has the right to take money from citizens and corporations to support its activities financially. Its activities refer to anything that will improve the economy and the lives of its citizens.

While this is an admirable cause, you may wonder what gives the government the right to exercise this authority. 

The 16th Amendment states Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on income, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

Ways Citizens Pay Taxes

Thanks to the 16th Amendment, US citizens pay taxes in several ways. Types of taxes include

  • Corporate
  • Estate
  • Income
  • Payroll
  • Property
  • Sales 
  • Tariffs

In the opening section, I mention my dislike of the removal of wages from my paycheck. Despite my opposition, I must admit the payroll tax is a good law.

The reason why is earnings acquired through this policy fund Medicare and Social Security programs. These programs benefit citizens who are unable to fully provide for themselves. 

 While payroll taxes seem beneficial, some believe tariffs are divisive. Tariffs apply to goods being imported from other countries based on a set rate or the value of an item.

Ideally,  they encourage countries to purchase goods within their borders. However, critics do not believe tariffs are effective since consumers pay higher prices for products.

An increase in prices means a decrease in the income citizens have available to survive. Thankfully, countries try to lessen this burden by financially supporting industries affected by tariffs.      

While these policies can be a strain, tax returns can provide some financial relief. Tax returns are documents detailing the income, expenses, and amount of taxes you pay in a year.

If documentation reveals insufficient tax payments, you will owe the IRS money and have to pay off debt.  However, if you overpay on taxes from the prior year, you may qualify for a refund.

Did Citizens Pay Taxes During Biblical Times?

2 Old Testament Examples

Now that you know the importance of taxes in America today, let’s examine their presence during biblical times. 

Genesis 41:33-36 shows Egyptians had to pay taxes when Joseph advises Pharoh to institute a law saying a fifth of their goods belong to him. History commends Joseph’s wise strategy as he preserves Egypt amid famine (Genesis 47:24-26).

While taxes help preserve Egypt, they cause division when Israel becomes a monarchy. King Rehoboam rejects the advice of mature advisors and imposes a heavier yoke than that of King Solomon (1 Kings 12:4-18). 

Commentators believe yoke refers to a strenuous burden of labor and taxes the Israelites endured. Interestingly, the Israelites only ask King Rehoboam to ease but not remove their burden.

They probably make this request understanding they are facing repercussions for ignoring Samuel’s warning not to ask for a king (1  Samuel 8:10-22). King Rehoboam’s decision divides the Israelites as Israel and Judah become two separate kingdoms (1 Kings 12:16). 

The Difference Between Taxes & Tithes

While differences over levies and labor demands divided the Israelites, they stood in agreement about tithes. Every Israelite understood Levitical laws required them to give a tenth of their goods back to God (Leviticus 27:30).

This principle is still relevant in many churches today as believers (who are financially able) give ten percent or more of their pay earnings back to God.

Tithes differ from taxes in that they are a command from the Lord. Also, the Lord does not force you to give tithes and will reject your offering if your motives are impure (Genesis 4:3-5; Acts 5:1-11). Our heavenly father wants everything we give to him to be done through sincere obedience.

Why Christians Must Pay Taxes Today?

Along with tithes, modern-day Christians must pay taxes out of sincere obedience to God. Matthew 22:21 confirms this when Jesus says give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and God what belongs to God. This means giving the government whatever money the law requires but worship belongs to God alone. 

Romans 13:1-7 also proves paying taxes allows believers to honor government authorities and demonstrate their faith.

Therefore, rejoice knowing that by paying taxes you are honoring both the law and God through obedience. 

1 Corinthians 10:31, “so whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (New Living Translation).

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