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Taxes According to the Bible

| October 5, 2012

For decades conservatives and liberals have argued over taxes. Liberals always want more and conservatives generally push for less. But there would be no debate if we just followed God’s laws of taxation. You see there are only two approved taxes in the Bible. A small fixed annual tax, called a head tax or poll tax, to be paid by all (half a shekel of silver), and a 10% income tax. Progressive income tax, sales tax, property tax, gas tax, and all other taxes are unjust.

If only our politicians would stop trying to outsmart God with their fantastic new tax schemes and just enforce God’s economic laws that have been around for thousands of years. If they would do this then we wouldn’t have the financial problems we are having today. In fact, we wouldn’t have any major problems in America if we obeyed the law of God.

Below is an excerpt about Biblical Taxation from a great book titled “The Institutes of Biblical Law”.

The Institutes of Biblical Law


There were, essentially, two kinds of taxes. First, there was the poll tax (Ex. 30:11-16)…The amount of this tax was the same for all men, half a shekel of silver, and it had to be paid by all men twenty years of age and over. The shekel at that time was not a coin but a weight of silver. Later on, the shekels were coined and were 220 grains troy (like a U.S. trade dollar), and a half shekel was thus about 110 grains. This tax was the basic and annual tax in Israel…

This head tax is specified as being equal for all. “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less” (Ex. 30:15). By means of this stipulation of an equality of taxation, the law was kept from being unjust. It had to be small, since a large amount would be oppressive for the poor, and it had to be the same for all, to avoid the oppression of the rich. Thus discriminatory taxation was specifically forbidden. This tax was collected by the civil authority and was mandatory for all males, twenty years old and older, except for priests and Levites, who were not subject to military draft. The just and basic tax, the head tax, was paid to the civil authorities as the required tax for the maintenance of a covering or atonement by the civil order.

The second tax was the tithe, which was not paid in a central place but was “holy unto the LORD” (Lev. 27:32). It went to the priests and Levites as they met the necessary ecclesiastical and social functions of society. Sometimes the Levites served in civil offices as well, as social conditions required it (I Chron. 23:3-5). Their work in music is well known to us from the Psalms as well as all Scripture, and their teaching duties are cited often, as witness II Chronicles 17:7-9 and 19:8-11). The Levites and priests were scattered throughout all Israel to meet the needs of every community, and they received these tithes as the people gave them.

Both forms of taxation, the head tax and the tithe, are mandatory, but a major difference exists between them. The state has a right to collect a minimal head tax from its citizens, but, while perhaps the state can require a tithe of all men, as has often been done, it cannot stipulate where that tithe shall go. The state thus controls the use of the head tax; the tither controls the use of the tithe tax. This is a point of inestimable importance. Since the major social functions are, in terms of Biblical law, to be maintained by the tithe, the control of these social functions is thus reserved to the tither, not the state. The head tax supports the state and its military power plus its courts. Education, welfare, the church, and all other godly social functions are maintained by the two tithes, the first tithe and the poor tithe. A society so ordered will of necessity have a small bureaucracy and a strong people.

The head tax is thus the support of the civil order, and the tithe is the support of the social order. In Biblical law, there is no land tax or property tax. Such a tax destroys the independence of every sphere of life and government—the family, school, church, vocation, and all else—and makes every sphere dependent on and subordinate to the state, or civil government.

Since Scripture declares repeatedly that “the earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof” (Ex. 9:29; Deut. 10:14; Ps. 24:1; I Cor. 10:26, etc.), a land tax is not lawful. A tax on the land is a tax against God and against His law-order. God Himself does not tax the land which He gives to men as stewardship under Him; He taxes their increase, or their production, so that the only legitimate tax is an income tax, and this is precisely what the tithe is—and income tax. But it is an income tax which is set at ten percent and no more. Beyond that, what a man gives is a freewill offering; the tithe is a tax, not an offering.

The subject of taxation belongs properly to both the sixth and eighth commandments. Ungodly taxation is theft. But modern power to tax is the power to injure and to destroy, and it is thus basically connected with the sixth commandment. A Biblically grounded tax structure will protect and prosper a social order and its citizenry, whereas a lawless tax structure spells death to men and society.

Increasingly, the function of taxation is to re-order society. By means of property, inheritance, income, and other taxes, wealth is confiscated and re-distributed.

From p. 281-283 of The Institutes of Biblical Law

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Category: Economics and the Bible

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