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Scriptures and taxes

TIM MANNELLO

Williamsport

In a recent response to a letter of mine entitled God’s fairness versus man’s, Mr. Mike Kerstetter wrote: “Tim Manello (it’s Mannello) in his recent letter titled, ‘God’s fairness versus man’s,’ used scripture to bolster his belief that the rich ought to be taxed at a higher rate. I did not say that the scriptures support or reject taxing the rich at a higher rate. I tried to convey a different message.

A re-reading of my letter would show that my point was not to equate religious giving with taxation or to argue that scripture supported a system of progressive taxation. It was to state my understanding of the New Testament’s teaching about the true value of money in the story of the widow’s mite: “The small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant, but proportionately lesser, donations of the rich.”

In the context of religious giving, the New Testament teaches that it is not how much you give that counts but how much you have left over after you give. Furthermore, I went on to say that if you applied this kind of calculus about the true value of money from what everyone knows is the voluntary act of donating to what everyone knows is the mandated act of taxation, the value of what the poor pay in taxes would be appreciated more than if we merely calculate the amount low-income earners pay in taxes.

Of course, the Bible is silent about any preferred system of taxation; the Bible says nothing about the relative merits of various systems of taxation. To think otherwise is anachronistic. If anyone had asked Jesus or the authors of the various books of the New Testament: “What do you think of progressive and regressive taxes, they would have said: “Say what?” In contrast, the Bible does have a lot to say about the value of money and wealth: for example, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Tm:6:10) And with this understanding, it is not a mistake to consider the valuation God puts on money when we discuss anything having to do with money, including taxes.

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