Tax season here in the U.S. is almost over.
According to USA TODAY, 90 million out of the 168 million individual returns the IRS anticipates this year have already been filed.
The deadline to file is April 18. (If you file for an extension, the deadline is October 16.)
Filing taxes has had more importance to me since joining my first Compass financial discipleship Bible study back in 2020. So, in the spirit of Tax Day, I want to share a few biblical principles I learned to consider when filing my taxes. Whether you’re one of the 90 million who’s already filed, these principles may also help you become a better financial disciple…
Principle #1: Give Unto Caesar What Is Caesar’s
This is what Jesus told the Pharisees about the imperial tax when they tried to trap him with His words (Matthew 22:21). Obviously, that didn’t work out so well for them!
Romans 13:7 says, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
Like many other taxpayers, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I notice “there’s a tax for that.” And I see the difference it would make in my finances if there were less taxes or none at all. But I’ve learned that it’s not my job to suggest what I think the tax code should be. It’s just my job to be obedient. Which brings me to the next principle…
Principle #2: Listen to Authority
I’ve also had my fair share of moments where I thought certain laws should be different or someone else would be better for the job in office. But again, I’ve learned that my difference in opinion doesn’t give me an excuse to disregard authority. It’s not about being political, it’s about following what is biblical.
The Bible tells us to be subject to authority. The authority in place has been allowed by God (Romans 13:1-5). And while I don’t think that means we should blindly follow—like when King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone to worship a statue (Daniel:3:8-27)—I do think that our respect for authority is an act of service to God.
Principle #3: Be Honest & Genuine
Now, being honest is important in everything we do, not just when filing our taxes. But I think it’s easy to compromise our integrity with some things.
For example, if I have a tax professional do my taxes for me and they tell me about shady loopholes that could help me, the right thing to do would be to decline their offer and possibly find someone else who will follow the rules. Yes, that costs me more money, but God rewards those who are obedient.
Being genuine is also important in everything we do, because God knows our heart.
If there is anything you do because of the tax benefit, I want to encourage you to search your heart.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with accepting favorable tax deductions. It is in your right to do so in accordance with the tax codes. What I am saying is, that should never be the motivation.
If you tithe to your church and donate to charity, do it because your heart tells you to, not because it is something to write off.
In 1 Corinthians 13, it says the things we do should be done with love, or else we might as well not do them at all. That includes giving (1 Corinthians 13:3).
If we are faithful to the Lord, He will be faithful to us. I have seen it time and time again. In the lives of others, yes; but in my life, as well.
When I first started tithing, I was tithing off of what I made after taxes. But a couple years later, a friend explained that tithing is based on income earned before taxes (Proverbs 3:9; Exodus 34:26). Out of greed and fear, I still chose to keep tithing the way I was until I was convicted a year later to change my ways.
Well, just a few months before I was supposed to be getting married, I still felt that, even though I eventually came around to tithing accordingly, I consciously robbed God for a year by choosing to tithe “my way.”
So, out of faith, I went back and calculated how much I should’ve been tithing and added a fifth to it as restitution (Leviticus 6:2-5). Then, I gave it to my church… during a time when I was saving for a wedding.
It was scary, and I was tempted not to do it. But God…
God gave me and my then fiancé (we’re married now) so much favor. The only explanation I could come up with was that it was because of my obedience.
I know this story has nothing to do with taxes. But it has everything to do with who God is…
When you choose to do what is right, even when it costs you something, God will reward you. And probably in the way you least expect.
So, when it comes to doing your taxes, or anything at all, be genuine and always try to do what is right. Because God takes care of His own (Matthew 6:25-33). He will never fail you.
Melody is the founder of financial coaching business Centsible Finance LLC. She earned a bachelor’s in public relations from the University of Florida in 2014, and a master’s in global strategic communications from Florida International University in 2017; but she discovered her passion in personal finance and writing, as well as a closer relationship with the Lord, after joining a Compass – finances God’s way study in 2020. She now serves as a volunteer on the Compass Florida board, is the editor for the Compass blog, and a facilitator and trainer for financial discipleship studies. Melody and her husband, Nate, have one son, Isaiah, and live in South Florida.