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I am not a tax protester. But, as a citizen, I am a tax payer. As such, I find all the talk about the government at all levels taking "a bigger bite" in taxes – as one commentator called it –very unsettling. We are told increases are needed to pay for the various stimulus programs and to cover the incredible deficits resulting from declining tax revenues.The effects of the recession (depression?) as well as increased spending for massive bailouts and entitlement programs are having a huge negative impact.
Counties and municipalities are also contemplating how to raise revenues and are considering increasing property taxes and local sales taxes. All of this is not lost on the citizens of this country and "tea parties" and raucous protests have been breaking out at town meetings being held to promote the policies and programs espoused by the President and the majority party in Congress.
With unemployment at historic levels and more jobs being lost every month as the economy continues to contract, some folks are approaching a state of panic about what the future holds. Certainly, the tax policies and tax rates of the various levels of government are approaching confiscatory levels, which move many people to try to evade paying taxes. Now, there is a difference in evading taxes and avoiding taxes. As citizens, we can and should use all legal means to reduce our tax burden in arriving at what we actually owe. Evasion implies illegal means, which should not be attempted for obvious reasons.
This is not a new problem. In fact, it has been around for millennia. In the time of Jesus Christ, the whole Mediterranean area was under Roman rule, and the people struggled under heavy taxation. The tax collectors were despised because, as agents of Rome, they collected the taxes and often took more than was actually required, keeping the surplus to enrich themselves. It was a harsh and hated system.
Yet, when those who wished to catch Jesus doing something illegal so they could accuse him of sedition, asked Him the direct question about whether or not the Jews of that time should pay taxes, He gave them a simple, direct answer that could not be misunderstood. We find the account in Luke 20:22-26: "'Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?' But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 'Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?' They answered and said, 'Caesar's.' And He said to them, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'"
This instruction applies to us today. With that in mind, each of us should plan wisely and keep very good records, so that we may minimize our tax liability within the laws of the land. For many, this will mean obtaining professional help for tax planning and preparation.
As we look forward to the Kingdom of God to be set up on this earth, we can look forward to a simple, equitable system of financing the government that God will use to provide the needed services to mankind. Anciently, the Patriarch's practiced this system. The prophets often referred to it. You can read about it Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament in Malachi 3:9-10. This system is practiced by some today, which makes it possible for Tomorrow's World to offer literature free of charge.
As we face these uncertain economic times, take comfort and encouragement from the words of Jesus Christ: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:31-33).
As you contemplate how to personally handle the "bigger bite," you will find more encouraging words in our booklet, What is a True Christian? Of course, it is free of charge.
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