Taxes are a necessary part of life; these compulsory charges fund a government, public services and amenities.  Jesus told people to give to the ruling authority what was due to

As with any debt – it must be paid

them and, by example, paid what was asked of Him (Mt 17:27, 22:21). The Bible says if you owe taxes, pay them, this shows you are submitted to divinely appointed, delegated authority. The only debt we should have, and can never fully repay, is the continuing debt to love each other (Rom 13:5-8).

During the early NT period, Israel was under the domination of the Roman Empire.  Various Jews were appointed by the Romans to collect taxes from their own people.  They were permitted to take a commission on what they collected but often overcharged and so were doubly disliked – for extortion as well as assisting the Roman authorities. Matthew, one of the 12 disciples, was a tax collector, and Jesus befriended many others with the intention of showing them a better way of life (Mk 2:14-17). To the repentant tax collectors Jesus said “Be honest”; Zacchaeus was one who demonstrated a changed lifestyle in response (Lk 3:12,13, 19:1-10). Jesus also told a parable of two men who prayed.  The tax collector was repentant and asked for God’s mercy and was forgiven of his sin while the self-righteous Pharisee disqualified himself (Lk 18:11-14).

Never cheat on your tax returns because this is stealing by giving a false report and sin will catch up with you (Ex 20:15,16; Num 32:23). Who can live with a guilty conscience?

See also: honesty, obligations, stealing.

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