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Biblical Perspective On Paying Your Taxes

 

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What is the biblical perspective on paying taxes? That is the same question that was asked of Jesus. “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?. . . [Jesus] said to them, ‘Show Me a[Roman coin]. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’ And they said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Then give to Caesar the things that are to Caesars’” (Luke 20:22-25). This is an example of the contrast between the practices of our society and the teaching of Scripture. Avoid paying taxes at any cost, people rationalize; after all, the government squanders much of what it collects.

I am not condoning the waste found in government. In fact, I believe a citizen should make an effort to influence government to be more efficient. But the Bible tells us of an additional responsibility: to pay your taxes! “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God . . . because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due”(Romans 13:1, 6-7). It is permissible to reduce your taxes by using legal tax deductions, but we should be careful not to make unwise decisions simply to avoid paying taxes.

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Government Shutdown 2013

Dear Friends,

These days the news is dominated by the shutdown of the Federal government and the war of words between the President and the Republicans in congress. There is much wringing of hands and dire predictions of what will happen if the shut down continues.

If that’s not enough, the battle over the debt ceiling is upon us as of October 17th with the same two sides rattling their sabers and warning of financial Armageddon if the other side does not cave in to their demands. So, what should you and I do in light of this brinkmanship on Capitol Hill?

I have two suggestions:

(1)    Limit the amount of news you watch or listen to. The media loves to hype this type of news, after all in times like these, ratings go up and advertisers pay up. The media onslaught can steal our sense of peace, fruitfulness, and joy that we should be experiencing in Christ. In Matthew 13, Jesus told the parable of the sower. In verse 22 he said, “And the one on whom the seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it become unfruitful.”

(2)    Pray for the Lord to work in the hearts of those serving in leadership of the government. Pray that the Lord would give them good hearts and a desire to honor one another. Pray that they would humble themselves before God and together seek resolution to these challenges. “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of  all men, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Warmly in Christ,
Howard Dayton

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The Fiscal Cliff

Dear Friends,

After months of playing political chicken, Congress managed to avoid the “fiscal cliff” at the very last moment by passing what is inaccurately titled the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. How is this going to impact you and me over the short run?

First, all workers will pay higher taxes this year because the payroll tax is now increased by 2%. This means that a person or couple earning $50,000 will pay an additional $1,000 in payroll taxes. On the flip side, the Bush-era tax cuts have been made permanent. This means that tax rates, capital gains taxes, and tax on dividends in 2013 will be the same as last year for all but those individuals earning more than $400,000. The legislation also provides some economic certainty for small businesses and entrepreneurs to count on which, thankfully, should translate into more job creation.

What Congress failed to address was our out-of-control spending. Remember, Congress intentionally created the Continue reading The Fiscal Cliff

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Occupy Wall Street

Dear Friends,

There’s been so much in the news lately about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that I thought it would be helpful to try to bring some perspective.

First, I am exceedingly thankful we live in a country where there is freedom of speech. It’s a precious birthright in our nation that’s not possible in many places in the world today. I’m grateful the occupiers and all Americans have the freedom to assemble and to peacefully communicate their concerns.

Second, with the stubbornly high unemployment and underemployment rates, I can understand the frustration that so many of our citizens feel. It can be scary to be out of work with a family depending upon you to meet their needs. A natural reaction is to look for someone to blame—whether it be big government or big business.

Third, I believe that capitalism has the best  potential of being the best economic system in the world because it fosters individual entrepreneurism. The financial back bone of our country is small business. Millions of our citizens have had the courage to start small businesses because that is the DNA of our country.

But for capitalism to actually be the best economic system, it must be what I call compassionate capitalism. And the only way to foster compassionate capitalism is when it’s practiced from a biblical perspective. This foundation rests on individuals recognizing that God owns their business (Psalm 24:1), and they are simply managers of His business.  And as managers, they are required to faithfully operate their business and conduct their financial affairs according to the Owners wishes as revealed in the Bible. “It is required in stewards [managers] that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Fourth, what does the Bible tell us about hard work and the individual responsibility to take care of our own needs? What does it say about caring for the needs of others?

The Bible encourages us to work hard to provide for our needs and the needs of our family: “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exodus 34:21).  “The precious possession of a man [and a woman] is diligence” (Proverbs 12:27). “If a man will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

The Bible also clearly encourages us to be compassionate and generously help the needy—whether the income is earned by a salaried employee or the business: “Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise” (Luke 3:11). “Do not merely look after your own personal interests, but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3). “They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I was also eager to do” (Galatians 2:10).

One of the loveliest examples in the Bible of a hard working small business person providing for the family and the needy is the amazing woman described in Proverbs 31:10-27, which reads in part: “An excellent wife . . . works with her hands in delight.  She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.  She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it. From her earnings she plants a vineyard . . . She extends her hand to the poor; and she stretches out her hands to the needy . . .  She makes coverings for herself. . . She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen . . . She looks well to the ways of her household . . .”

May all of us catch the vision of using our work to provide for the needs of our loved ones and of others in need.

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Howard Dayton is the Founder and CEO, Compass – finances God’s way. For more information about Howard, please click HERE.