Ask Chuck: 3 Tips on Doing Your Taxes That the Bible Teaches
To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.
I'm getting nervous as the April 18th tax day approaches. Sometimes it feels like a test I'm going to flunk, and I don't want to be audited. Do you have any good advice on taxes and does the Bible have anything to say about this?
You're not alone in feeling the pressure. A Zogby Interactive Survey found that 56 percent of Americans find the tax filing process stressful, while 18 percent say it's very stressful.
Did you know that even Jesus had a taxman? Jesus' disciple Matthew was a tax collector who left his job to follow the Messiah. It's interesting that taxes have been with us for a while, and that the Bible indicates we should pay them.
Matthew 22:15-22 tells the story of the Pharisees, religious leaders of Jesus' day, trying to trick Jesus with a question on taxes.
"Teacher," they said, "we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?"
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?Show me the coin used for paying the tax."
They brought him a denarius,and he asked them, "Whose image is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
Taxes do serve a purpose. They provide funds for government, charged to use them to serve the people, and Paul writes very directly about that in Romans 13: "This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
I've written quite a bit on tax tips, which you can check out here, but I have three pieces of advice – straight from the Bible – that will help put your mind at ease.
1. Tell the Truth
Remember the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Lie." Neither God nor the IRS wants you to cheat on your taxes. Avoid the problems and penalties by being truthful on your returns.
2. Get some Help
Remember Proverbs 15:22: "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."
The tax code is extremely complex, and very few of us can go it alone. In 2015, the tax code was 74,608 pages long … and counting. If you have any degree of complexity in your finances, it would be wise to talk with a professional tax preparer who has read them all!
Remember the Bible's instructions to Christians to support God's work on earth, usually a minimum of 10 percent of a person's income. Keep track of your giving and write it off on your taxes. One survey found that 65 percent of Americans said they had donated to charity — don't forget gifts to qualified not-for-profits are deductible!
Taxes are a fact of life, so with some good advice and organization you can take care of this without fear or too much pain.
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