March 12, 2009
The story is told in three of the four gospels. Jesus is approached by some religious people (lawyers among them, naturally) who think they know his character. They are sure he will advise against paying taxes to the corrupt Roman government. And they plan to use his opposition as a means to trap him with legal trouble and shut down his ministry. But Jesus surprises and amazes them by saying, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:25.
It’s that simple. Jesus says to pay the government the taxes we owe!
Yet many Christian clients inexplicably seem to struggle with honesty and full compliance when it comes to paying taxes. Some want to dance around the issue of taxes almost as if they believe there is an entirely separate standard of morality that applies, as if the distinction between lies and truth mysteriously evaporates in the realm of taxation.
What’s the real deal? Lying about taxes is still lying.
The book of Proverbs, at chapter 21, verse 6, warns, “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.” Better we counsel our clients to pay the government all the taxes they legitimately owe than to let them get caught up in a deadly snare!