By: Zach Dawes
Analyzing taxation from a faith perspective has become taboo. It's rarely discussed from the pulpit; theologians have shied away from it. Yet a just tax system is one avenue by which we pursue the common good.
By: Lori Walke
People of faith should work to make sure that our state and federal taxes go to the common good, specifically for economic justice, public education and social services for our most vulnerable neighbors.
By: Bob Browning
Paying taxes is the duty of every citizen. In the U.S., we have a say in how the government levies, collects and distributes our taxes. As Christians, we must join these discussions because the gospel shows up in budgets.
No one can take God from anything that God himself does not want to abandon. Still, the very best act of stewardship and patriotism that we can exercise is our willingness to give back to our country what belongs to it, and to God what belongs to God. In fact, that is the very meaning of the word that is translated “render.” It means to give back again.
Throughout Scripture, God pronounces judgment on Israel and her neighbor nations for oppressing the poor. Our government is just as accountable to God for our care of the poor.
A third of Britons are currently boycotting the products or services of companies that do not pay their fair share of taxes in the United Kingdom, a new survey reveals.
One of the ways to help bring an end to poverty is to put an end to tax-evading companies. When companies avoid taxes, poor nations lose money for schools and hospitals.
Mitt Romney was pulverized for flip-flopping, shading ideas to the point of distortion and making up facts. Within weeks of re-election, President Obama has done the same thing.
A forthright critique of Obama's plan to limit tax deductions on charitable giving is now required. Charitable giving is fundamental to tens of thousands of houses of faith and their many institutions.
Faith and taxes may be a forbidden topic in many houses of faith, but it was the focus of the Baptist Center for Ethics' annual luncheon during the CBF General Assembly.
While churches and nonprofits can help those in need, the situation has become so complex that state and national governments must play a role. And that's where our taxes help.
Grover Norquist taps public resentment of taxes without a hint of his underlying opposition to Social Security, public education and all that makes middle-class prosperity possible.
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama is proposing lower tax deductions for the wealthy on donations to churches and other nonprofit organizations.
Many of our nation's wealthiest corporations don't pay their fair share in taxes. When they leach off society, the burden for a good society spreads to others less able to pay. That's unfair.
So what do you render to God? If you think the U.S. government first thought of it, when they came up with the image of a white-haired bearded man in a tall hat pointing his finger and saying, “Uncle Sam Wants You,” then think again. God first and last makes that claim.
Amounting to a fraction of a percent, a proposed European tax on financial transactions could rake in billions to fight poverty and climate change, but it's meeting resistant from the Britain and the U.S.
If GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul wants churches to cover health care costs for the uninsured, the self-proclaimed Christian should disclose his charitable giving as evidence of his commitment.
WASHINGTON (RNS) Several candidates sought to kick-start their stalling campaigns by preaching a gospel of low taxes and conservative Christian values.
GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain's support of a "fair tax" idea is hardly fair to people who are scraping to get by. Wealthier people with the ability to invest will pay a smaller percentage as their wealth increases.
As President Obama called for economic growth involving fair taxation and "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart engaged a guest on taxation and wealth, a group of students discussed taxation and moral leadership.
(RNS) A long-standing tax break for clergy and other “ministers of the gospel” is facing the newest in a string of challenges in federal court.
While budget-panicked governments in the U.S. and Europe take out their fears on the urban poor and lower-middle class with cutbacks to services, the super rich get away with tax evasion on a huge scale.
Having earlier opposed the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts that benefited the wealthiest Americans, Republicans want to raise the payroll tax on the poor and middle-class.
Countering the voice of the anti-tax, anti-government crowd, those who believe government has a role in providing society's safety net think it is essential to give a hand to those whom society counts least.
Billionaire Warren Buffett struck a nerve with the anti-tax, anti-government crowd when he called on a tax for the super-rich. Yet not one of them spoke to his call for shared sacrifice.
At a town hall meeting, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole opposed raising taxes to ease the national deficit and claimed rolling back the Bush tax cuts won't make a dent in the deficit. Turns out, he was comparing apples to oranges.
Many different voices in U.S. society are calling for protection for the individual, rather than seeking what's good for the community. Why is the voice of social justice barely a whisper amid the current clatter?
What's the Christian response to the national debt? How do the debt and our weak economy affect the poor? Participants viewing the EthicsDaily.com documentary on faith and taxes wrestled with these questions.
President Bush vowed in 2001 that tax cuts would mean “a better life in a more prosperous America.” But how many of his claims about what tax cuts would do actually turned out to be true?
To turn around states' budget shortfalls, one group proposes flipping the percentage of taxes paid by each state's wealthiest and poorest citizens. Those in the middle would see no change.
Delegates at an annual meeting of Baptists in Great Britain passed a resolution that highlighted the negative impact of tax evasion by multinational corporations on poor countries.
As Christian leaders sought to impact congressional tax and budget policies, Rush Limbaugh and liberal MSNBC pundit Lawrence O'Donnell traded barbs recently over what Jesus' policies would be on taxes.
The vast majority of Americans believe the blame for the federal budget deficit rests with too much spending on wasteful federal programs, a new poll says. Public opinion appears to be out of step with historical facts.
President Obama says he wants to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. GOP leaders say "no" to taxes. And several polls show the majority of Americans say tax the rich.
Some politicians insist entitlement programs must be reformed to help our economy. But is this so-called reform merely a maneuver to reduce one kind of entitlement in order to protect entitlements for those in power?
Releasing a list of the top 10 companies that avoid or pay almost nothing in federal income tax, a U.S. senator called for ending tax breaks for oil companies and closing tax loopholes for corporations.
We need more than charity if we want to make a meaningful difference to address poverty. When we work for justice, we can address the larger issues of taxation and education that keep poverty alive.
General Electric avoided paying federal taxes while raking in billions in profits. It's a story that's received major media coverage, except on "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams." GE is NBC's parent company.
With 975 employees in its tax department and spending more than $200 million to lobby Congress for favorable treatment, General Electric lets taxpayers foot the bill while it rakes in profits and avoids taxes.
A Methodist Sunday School class in Nashville is doing something that rarely happens in the nation's pulpits; class members are making the connection between faith and taxes.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed a plan of shared sacrifice to get the nation's deficit under control by raising taxes and reducing the growth of entitlements, triggering a temper-tantrum from right-wing bloggers.
An Oklahoma state senator tried to call the GOP's bluff by proposing an amendment to eliminate the state's income tax, which provides a third of the state's revenue. The amendment passed 39-8.
A grassroots tax justice movement is drawing attention to corporations that dodge taxes by funneling their profits to tax havens. While these havens may be legal, they're certainly not moral.
(RNS) Get ready for more undernourished infants, dangerously cold homes and disease-stricken communities in developing countries.
The bold ethical challenge to love God and neighbor is reduced to a lowest common denominator of personal piety in many faith communities. But the biblical expectation laid on people of faith is to seek a just community.
(RNS) When a community needs to rebuild crumbling roads, should houses of worship pay fees for the number of times their congregants drive on them?
Schools may falter, the elderly and ill may suffer and our children may be trapped in poverty, but none of that seems to sway the political right from its single-minded mantra of no taxes.
Goodwill faith leaders must sound the alarm and put taxation on the moral agenda of houses of faith. To continue avoiding the topic and denying the good that derives from a just tax system is morally irresponsible.
Members of President Obama's own party lament that he has caved on a clear pledge. While some see it as weakness, his effort to work for partial solutions on the way toward a greater goal may reveal wise leadership.
Political leaders are supposed to execute justice for the vulnerable. They can't fulfill that duty without the revenue produced by taxes. President Obama knows this is true yet is willing to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.
President Obama and Republicans in Congress appear willing to continue the national pastime of pandering to the wealthy at the expense of the needy. Their deal should offend anyone who cares about justice.
The biblical testimony has a clear word in favor of the poor. But too many people of faith negotiate away the biblical imperative to protect the poor in favor of the materialistic imperative to protect the rich.
Based on the 160 ballot measures in 37 states during the midterm elections, what can one conclude about the moral state of America? Despite the media narrative, we disagree on a number of social and moral issues.
With every GOP leader preaching tax cuts, one Republican sounds like John the Baptist in the wilderness. His words affirm that Americans are in a dream world about cutting taxes. And we had better wake up.
WASHINGTON (RNS) Is a state law that allows tax credits for donations to scholarship programs unconstitutional?
EthicsDaily.com had a record-smashing month in October. What caused our readership to skyrocket? One reason is that we address timely issues from a centrist moral perspective that is rooted in the biblical witness.
There seems to be a roar of approval for reducing taxes with little concern for those who would be hurt by the curtailing of government services. When will Christians rise up for a just tax policy in our nation?
Questions of taxation would seem to be political issues upon which the faith community has little to say. However, the three Abrahamic traditions speak of the need for funds to be gathered for the common good.
To "seek the welfare of the city" in our day takes the form of generosity of heart when paying taxes. We all benefit by a tax system that protects the most vulnerable and requires those with greater resources to live justly.
Not every issue was able to make the cut in EthicsDaily.com's new documentary, including several interviewees discussing the failure of trickle-down economics.
Those who oppose gambling as a moral concern need to help legislators have the backbone necessary to reform our tax system and raise adequate taxes for schools and other services.
Highly paid financial employees complain new reforms will limit their bonuses. Wealthy folks are incensed their tax cuts will expire. It seems the wrong people are crying out for justice.
Producing EthicsDaily.com's new documentary, "Sacred Texts, Social Duty," involved distilling more than 30 hours of footage to a single compelling hour that explores faith and taxes in a topical fashion.
Faith leaders are taking a stand to change a regressive tax system in the state of Washington. A November ballot initiative would be "a great first step" to ease the burden placed on the poor by the state's current tax structure.
An Oklahoma pastor intentionally broke the law by endorsing a candidate for governor from the pulpit. Nothing prohibits churches from endorsing candidates – as long as they are willing to give up their tax-exempt privilege.
The newest documentary from EthicsDaily.com tackles the most forbidden topic in houses of faith – taxation. How do people of faith address one of the most contentious topics in the public square?
With anti-taxers at a fever pitch and politicians locked in an angry stalemate over taxation, EthicsDaily.com is releasing a documentary on faith and taxes, "Sacred Texts, Social Duty."
The Web site for EthicsDaily.com's hour-long documentary "Sacred Texts, Social Duty."
Jesus had harsh words for his followers who led newcomers in the faith to sin. His warning should be heeded by those who urge others who are new in the faith to take political positions opposed to Jesus' teachings.
Follow the blogs and social media, and you'll find plenty of hostility toward the government. There's talk of revolution and comparisons of President Obama to Hitler. Yet Scripture urges us to obey the civil government.
More than 40 states, including Tennessee, have lotteries. And they use predatory marketing practices to prey on the poor to spend their limited income on tickets, benefitting those who are better off.
As the United Kingdom tightens its belt following the emergency budget, Christians have been challenged to live generously, invest in their communities and give society a taste of God's kingdom.
For some, less government would be a good thing. But if all government services disappeared tomorrow, those who demanded smaller government would demand that essential services be restored immediately.
Speaking up for tax increases for public education is the right and hard thing to do. If the conservative state of Arizona can do it, then other states can do it – no matter how loudly the conservative forces of "no we can't" yell.
A report from an international development charity highlights the tax-haven secrecy practiced by Britain's soccer clubs. The charity says the financial secrecy costs the lives of many children in poor countries.
When Wall Street was seen as a respectable and glamorous way to make money in the 1980s, many people dove into the free-for-all market. It lasted until 2008, when millions of Americans were thrown into poverty.
Is it time to vote some politicians out? Maybe the Tea Party crowd is right – just for the wrong reason. Too many politicians don't have the courage to raise taxes to allow government to function as it should.
With the British government facing tough decisions about taxation and spending, churches will need wisdom for the part they play. Will they be willing to support unpopular measures for the sake of the greater good?
When's the last time you heard a sermon advocating for a good tax policy? No topic is more avoided in pulpits than the moral good of taxation. It's often a forbidden topic in churches.
As state governments tighten their budgets and consider fiscal changes to handle the recession, religious leaders in some states complain that the poor are being adversely impacted by tax policies.
When Jesus was asked about whether taxes should be paid to the government, his response was timeless. We must be good citizens and good Christians. The two go hand in hand.
Paying taxes is a sign of membership in our democracy, which the anti-tax crowd fails to grasp. Even Boston Tea Party folks didn't oppose paying taxes; they opposed paying them to a government that wasn't their own.
Pro-tax millionaires are pushing back against the anti-tax crowd. USA Today reported that more than 700 wealthy Americans favored the elimination of President George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich.
Two great systems of thought are colliding. There are those who complain they are taxed to death, and others who proclaim the moral imperative of charity and justice growing out of the Abrahamic religions.
Unable or unwilling to create a fair and just tax system to provide for public services like education and health care, states have embraced the lottery as an alternative source of revenue. But it's a form of public tax evasion.
America has one of the lowest tax rates among other industrialized, market-driven nations. So why is there so much anger about taxes? Many of us are apathetic to government's contributions to the general welfare.
Christians can learn something from the tea partiers. We ought to be in serious discussions about a whole range of issues that must include the roles of government.
Alabama's governor is on a crusade against gambling, but is it for the right reason? Do Christians oppose gambling because they want to control bad behavior or because it preys on the poor?
A candidate seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination for governor of Alabama is on a crusade to change the state's tax code, with the goal of helping those who are struggling financially.
When people say, as they have said for decades, that "government is the problem," we make it seem as though by getting rid of government, we will be better off. This is patently untrue. Our government is us.
Once, there was a village called Alabama. Its villagers learned that the house that protected their children, the elderly and the poor was old and needed repair. Read what happens in this modern-day parable.
When middle-income families struggle to make ends meet, it's even tougher for residents of two states – Alabama and Mississippi – that still fully tax groceries. Some in Alabama have a plan to change that.
Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Ed Young Sr. recently devoted a sermon to the problems with the American tax system. However, several claims made by the former SBC president were inaccurate.
Most goodwill Christians have written, spoken and preached too little about taxes, yet taxation is foundational for almost every social justice cause. It's time for a lot more biblical, theological and moral reflection about taxes.
Taxes often hit working families with low and middle incomes the hardest. And with Arkansas' unbalanced tax system, it's time for that state's citizens to fight for a fair and responsible tax system.
Many people of faith are acutely aware of God's stance toward the poor. However, our expressions of charity alone will not suffice. We must change the very structures that overtax the poor.
States with tax policies that oppress the poorest and most vulnerable citizens were also likely to have large Baptist populations, new research says.
I want to propose a new name for Alabama's education system--one that more accurately portrays the true status of public education in our state. I propose we call our public schools "the Lazarus system."
Don't miss the Baptist Center for Ethics' luncheon in Memphis on Thursday, June 19, at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's annual gathering. You will hear a Methodist law-school professor who rocked Alabama's faith community out of its moral lethargy about an unfair tax structure; encouraged a Republican governor, who sought justice for the least of those in his state; and grabbed the attention of the Wall Street Journal. She has the moral vision of a biblical prophetess and the analytical carefulness of a tax expert.
The Alabama Senate is considering a bill that will, among other things, remove the state portion of tax on food. I'm hopeful the bill will pass and have encouraged others to do what I have done--call their senator to encourage support for the bill.
An Alabama law professor who argues that fair taxation is a moral issue will present her case June 19 at a luncheon meeting sponsored by the Baptist Center for Ethics. The gathering is in conjunction with the 18th General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, scheduled June 19-20 in Memphis, Tenn.
The Internal Revenue Service is investigating whether a speech last summer by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama to a United Church of Christ national meeting violated rules for tax-exempt charities against partisan campaigning.
Abortion is an important moral issue, but not for the reason many pro-life Christians believe, says a University of Alabama law professor and seminary graduate who has spent five years on the sawdust trail preaching the gospel of tax reform.
In the wake of economic hardship, many states are looking to raise taxes on cigarettes, a plan that supporters call a "win-win" solution.