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Tax time is approaching

2006 tax rate chart
2006 tax rate chart
sinan_unur's photostream

One of the more onerous experiences in life is the payment of taxes.  In the minds of most of us, tax filing is ain to getting a tooth pulled.  The person is losing something and he/she will never see the benefit from that thing again.  The issue grows as one's income grows.  The National Taxpayers Union reports that in 2007, over 40% of the income tax collected came from just the top 1% of wage earners.

Just how much money is involved? In 2008, the Federal government collected $2.5 trillion in revenue. 45% of that  came from personal income taxes. When examining that amount, a surpising fact emerges. That is that the top 1% of wage earners reap 19% of the income in the country, and they also pay 37% of all the income taxes. The bottom 50% of wage earners reap 13% of all the earnings in the US, but they pay only 3% of the income taxes. The problem is that for many of the lower end wage earners, the 3% they need to pay is much more difficult to fund than that of the higher end wage earners.

As an evangelical Christian, it is often difficult to reconcile the amount of money that is required to meet one's income tax obligation with the sense of hard work and personal effort needed to generate the cah flow which is taxed. There seems to be a discrepancy.  Jesus was also asked about taxes.  In one of the lines that has entered the cultural idioms, he said, "Give unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's."   (The Gospel of Mark 12:17)

The point of what he was saying is often lost on the anguished taxpayer.  Jesus is calling his followers to forgo their attachement to the money that bears the image of the ruler. If it has the image of the Caesar on it, it must be his. Instead, Jesus calls his followers to think more carefully about giving God that which has God's image on it -- the human being's very self which is made in God's image. If his followers focus on giving their whole selves to God, then the anguish of giving Caesar his due is assuaged.