Civil Government and Taxation

Secular Government from the viewpoint of the Bible
An analysis of verses dealing with government taxation

"Therefore we pay taxes"

Paul writes in Romans 13, "therefore we pay taxes." Why? Verse 6 answers - "for the authorities are God's public officials, constantly attending to these duties". They work, and so they ought to be paid is the simple reasoning.

Which duties? Paul delivers a prerequisite for having the right to demand taxes by describing the duties in verses 3 and 4. In verse 3, "For rulers are no terror to good conduct, but to bad." Verse 4 repeats the concept, that the servant must punish wrong-doers. If he does not punish the wrong doers, then evidently he is not God's public servant. If these prerequisites are not met, then they are not performing their job, and they thus forfeit their servant status, and in turn lose their right to demand payment; for payment can only be requested when the services are appropriately delivered.

If payment / tax is gathered under the pretense that the services were properly delivered, although they were not, or as payment for services not falling into the realm of governments job, then the moneys were stolen. At this point we must come to the conclusion that we are dealing with a mafia. John the Baptist has a few words to say on this subject.

We note at this point that God has not given government a carte blanche!

Taxation is such an important subject, if only due to the fact that money is involved, I have attempted to put all references to it in one document.

"Who's name and picture are these?"

  • Matthew 22:17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
  • Matthew 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
  • Matthew 22:19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
  • Matthew 22:20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
  • Matthew 22:21 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.

The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus. Jesus replied with the famous line, "Well then, give the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor." Notice that Jesus did not say, "give to the Emperor what the Emperor demands". Could it be that the Emperor would demand that which does not belong to him? The answer is of course a resounding "yes".

Limits of taxation

Luke 3:12-14 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Government officials comes to John the Baptist for advice. He, as a prophet, works in the gift of knowledge concerning peoples sins along the lines of 1 Corinthians 14:24-25. And this is the revelation he received: to the tax collectors he said "do not to collect more than the government assesses". The soldiers are commanded "not to intimidate, not to accuse falsely, and be satisfied with your pay".

From this passage we know that the government officials at that time (1) collected more than what was correct, (2) intimidated / extorted, (3) accused falsely and were (4) not satisfied with their just pay. (1) was the goal of the governments' effort and (4) was the motive, where (2) and (3) are the methods. The situation is the same today.

See Mark 12:15-17 for the same account.

Tax Collectors

Here are verses showing the Bible's view of tax collectors.

Luke 18:10-12 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.

It is clear through this statement that tax collectors were considered on the same level as robbers, evildoers and adulterers.

Luke 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

Matthew 5:43-47 You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that `every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Tax collectors are obviously considered the lowest of the low, alongside the prostitutes and so on.

The Tax Rate equivalent of Slavery

  • Genesis 47:21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
  • Genesis 47:22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.
  • Genesis 47:23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
  • Genesis 47:24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.

The long-winded justification for the 20% tax given by Joseph is that they were slaves of Pharaoh. So the biblical standard for slavery is when one pays a 20% tax. The true tax rate for the average laborer in Germany is 70%. Those who make more pay a rate of 80-90%. In the United States, the land of the free, it is about 50%. The average person on the street does not realize this, for most of the taxes he pays is hidden from him, for if he knew the real rate, he would probably start shooting at those stealing from him.

We conclude by calculating that the a standard European resident is 3.5 or 4 times the slave according to the Bible. A standard American is 2.5 to 3.5 times the slave. This is not the will of God (we will discuss Joseph's grain policy that brought about this situation later in full detail). No great imagination is required to see that these tax rates are nothing but protection payments; not payments for honest (according to the Bible) government services rendered.

One could go further and contend that an income tax in its own right, regardless of the rate, is slavery. The mark of a slave is that he works for the benefit of the master under the threat of violence. This is much different than working for another under a free-will contract in the market place. We note for completeness that the mafia typically skims a percentage off the top.

Inheritance Tax

Ezekiel 46:18 The prince is not to take over any of the people's inheritance, thereby evicting them wrongfully from their property; he is to give his sons an inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people will be driven off their property.

An inheritance tax is strictly forbidden in the Bible. It is "wrongfully evicting the people from their property". This law was instated so that "none of my people will be driven off their property".

As a side note we see that people own property. This kills any attempt to tie socialism together with the Bible.

God is alluding to the practice of officials taking property from the citizens and giving it to their sons. God calls it stealing. "It is their possession by inheritance" (verse 16) sets a law into motion that rightful possession can be obtained through inheritance. It is the property owner's choice what happens with his goods upon his death, not the choice of government.

Paying Taxes without paying them

  • Matthew 17:24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
  • Matthew 17:25 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?
  • Matthew 17:26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
  • Matthew 17:27 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.

Moses did not requiring any tax for the temple. The temple was built with gifts, and the sacrificial material used in the temple was brought as the tithe. The 3 - known to me (Moses, David, Solomon) - references to financing the temple were all according to charity. Taxes were raised at a later point, but these were levied by the kings, who cannot help but think in terms of taxes. In any case, the temple did not require any tax to function properly.

It is important to note that Jesus did not pay the tax, but rather a fish did. Peter's statement to the contrary was in haste and out of fear of not meeting the religious people's standards. That Jesus did not pay shows that He did not support this system, at least not in this manner. The fish paying the tax was an effort to avoid unnecessary trouble and discussion.

But the reason for handing over the tax was much more important than avoiding trouble. Jesus proved by paying the tax that He was not the King of their kingdom; for the king (or his sons) never pays a tax to his own kingdom. Basically He said by this action, that His and God's Kingdom is not their kingdom; or alternatively, they (those in this religious system) were not part of God's Kingdom.

This brings us to our next point. The tax was obviously not for the God's temple, but for those who administrated the wealth brought in by the tax. This happens today.

But the tax payer can obtain faith in this story. Jesus did not pay the tax! God supernaturally blessed Jesus, such that after all was said and done, Jesus had no less money after the unjust tax!

Evasion of unjust Taxation

Judges 6:1-14 describes a situation much like ours. The Midyanites overpowered Israel militarily. Israel was forced to pay protection payments to the Midyan warriors. The warriors assumed control the land, swept across it, stole what they could carry, and destroyed the rest for good measure.

This particular story resembles perfectly the standard tax authorities actions found in any country on earth. Once a year they ride through the land and take what they can. On the way, the do quite a bit of damage to the economy.

Judges 6:11-12 Then the angel of ADONAI came and sat under the pistachio tree in Ofrah that belonged to Yoash the Aviezri. His son Gidon was threshing wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from Midyan. The angel of ADONAI appeared to him and said to him: You valiant hero! ADONAI is with you!

Gid'on, in an effort to do what he could to repel the Midyan attack, hid that which the tax authorities wanted to steal. Just after this act, the angel of Adonai appears and picks Gid'on to be the savior against the invaders. Why did Adonai chose Gid'on? Gid'on was brave enough to stand up against the thieves, even though they were much more powerful than he, to save what belonged to him and his father.

The Midyanites did not see it this way of course. They called it without a doubt "tax evasion", "treason", "unpatriotic", or even worse.

Judges 6:25-26 That very night ADONAI said to him, 'Take your father's bull and the other bull, the seven-year-old. Destroy the altar to Ba'al that belongs to your father, cut down the sacred pole next to it, and build a proper altar to ADONAI your God on top of this strong-point. Then take the second bull; and offer it as a burnt offering, using the wood of the sacred pole you cut down.

Before the freedom from Midyan, Gid'on had to clean his ancestor's house.

Judges 6:7-10 When the people of Israel cried out to ADONAI because of Midyan, ADONAI sent a prophet to the people of Israel, who said to them: ADONAI the God of Israel says, "I brought you up from Egypt, out of a life of slavery. I delivered you from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all your oppressors. I drove them out ahead of you and gave you their land. And I said to you: I am ADONAI your God; you are not to be afraid of the gods of the Emori in whose land you are living. But you paid no attention to what I said!

The oppression unto slavery arose from disobedience. The very first act of Gid'on was to attack the sin itself. Only afterwards did Gid'on attack the unjust rulers. The root of the problem must be destroyed before the effects of the problem can be removed.

Tax Rates

Ezra 4:13 So let the king know that if this city is rebuilt and the walls are finished, they will refuse to pay tribute, tax or toll; and this will reduce the royal revenue.

We are lead to believe that government tax rates are calculated based upon what government needs to perform its services. This should be the case, but is not. The tax rate is calculated based upon what the politicians think they can get. This is a function of how well the civilians can defend themselves against the aggressive violence of government theft. Once one can defend himself against theft, he does so - whether the thief snoops around at night wearing a ski mask, or strolls the halls of government wearing a tie, the average person defends himself given the chance.

One should note that 90% of all laws have to do with taking away our defensive walls concerning taxation. For the most part, this means gathering information concerning our wealth - where is it, how much is it, where did it go, when, how much is earned, and so on. If the government does not know how much money one has, or where he has it, the government cannot confiscate it.

Government's job is to punish the wrong-doer, not scheme ways of collecting more money from the citizens.

Taxation According to Means

2 Kings 23:34-35 Then Pharaoh N'khoh made Elyakim the son of Yoshiyahu king in place of Yoshiyahu his father and changed his name to Y?hoyakim. He also carried Y?ho?achaz off to Egypt, where he died. Y'hoyakim remitted the silver and gold to Pharaoh; but in order to pay the money Pharaoh demanded, he had to levy a tax on the land. He taxed the people of the land, each according to his means, to pay the silver and gold to Pharaoh N'khoh.

Notice the phrase, "each accrording to his means". This is a progressive tax structure - the more one has, the more one must pay. Almost every tax is like this although it is contrary to Romans Chapter 13. This tax structure is implemented in what kind of a society? In one where the people are paying tribute to a foreign king. The progressive tax is a tribute of conquest, not a tax according to properly provided government services.


There exist only five methods of calculating taxes

  1. on account of income (income tax, social security tax, inheritance tax …)
  2. on account of ownership (real estate tax …)
  3. on account of moving something of value across a physical border (tariff tax …)
  4. on account of having permission (hunting license, corporate license …)
  5. on account of the government having done something

If we either take the text in Romans chapter thirteen as it is written, or take a sanity check, we must conclude that methods (1) - (4) are illegal. Sit back and think about the oddity of purchasing a car or renting an apartment calculated as a percentage of your income. This is economic non-sense, for it is not just. But, the services provided by government are just that, services, no different from any other service provided by man. If one thinks about it, one sees that government is a corporation that sells violence services - nothing more, nothing less. Not one single reason can be made to justify the calculating tax by the methods (1) - (4).

Remember very carefully that Paul the Apostle made the absolute logical argument that the government ought to be paid because the government preformed services. Why should I pay taxes on account of my having provided services, owned a house, moved a good across a political jurisdiction or so on?

With that said, ignoring the injustice of a tax based upon income, should the government truly remain inside the guidelines set forth in Romans chapter Thirteen, the government would consume no more than 5% of your income. Think of how wealth even the lower middle class would be? Or how free you could be? One could easily retire at the age of 35 and live of investments. The citizens' sin of overindulging consumption - the author is speaking directly to the Americans - is springing forth a government that cannot control its appetite for more and more spending. It will destroy us if we do not get this monster under control, regardless of what the supposed economic experts blather. The economic laws set forth in the Bible will prove ever single one of them wrong, just like the prophet Eliyahu in 1 Kings 18.

Author: Scott Wallace Brians
Date: 16 October 2005
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Copyright: All Rights Reserved Bible Text: Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern