Paying Taxes as a Spiritual Practice

Caesar-Augustus1As we prepare to buy a house in our new hometown, the number crunchers tell us that our local property taxes will be approximately the same as our actual mortgage.  Yikes.

HH and I are blessed with two jobs in an economy that guarantees no jobs – especially for a couple of English majors with graduate degrees in something as unmarketable as “Divinity.”  And so – with our two jobs – we can afford to live here and pay our taxes.  And we will do so happily.

Among the comments I’ve heard from helpful acquaintances:

  • The taxes are high because the schools are really good.  But you don’t have kids in the schools.  Why would you live there?
  • You know your gas taxes are the highest in the country, right? (Actually we are third, behind California and NY.)

All of us pay taxes on things we don’t like (e.g. war.)

All of us pay taxes on things we find helpful (e.g. snow plowing, street lights.)

Tax collectors were hated in First Century Palestine and we are not happy with them in this Century either. And of course nobody likes irresponsible spending and waste.  But what if we considered the paying of our taxes as a spiritual practice?  For the most part, our taxes take care of us and our neighbors.

In today’s political divide, can we who call ourselves followers of Jesus agree that this is one way that we – as a larger community – can care for each other?  I am happy to pay taxes that serve the greater good.  You?

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4 responses to “Paying Taxes as a Spiritual Practice

  1. My pastor actually preached a sermon on that very thing when the “Render unto Caeser” reading came up in the lectionary. It was a bold move on his part, considering that a good 1/3 of the congregation are Tea Party types politically.

  2. Ah, community, common good, what concepts!

  3. Yeah. I don’t think my spouse and I with our 2 dependents pay our share of the taxes. I would pay more. I think people who make a whole lot more than us could also pay more. So maybe we could have universal health coverage. But I’m kind of liberal that way. –Wendy

  4. Mike Landefeld

    One of the Freakanomics podcasts I listened to proposed an interesting concept for taxes; what if we were able to choose which programs/services/etc. a small portion of our taxes were invested in? I believe the example given was 5% of one’s taxes would be “discretionary” allowing taxpayers to invest it in defense, social security, etc. either wholly or partially. I find such a concept could help to make paying taxes a spiritual practice…or at least generate some interesting data about America’s values.

    On a separate note, the best eulogy I ever heard was given at my grandfather’s funeral by his former pastor. The pastor quoted scripture regarding how Jesus loved even the most reviled among us, including tax collectors, which earned a large laugh as my grandfather was a retired IRS agent.

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