Monday, February 3, 2014

Tax time

As with many questions I see posed to Billy Graham, I am confused as to why these people write a religious advice column with non-religious questions. This Sunday was no exception...
QUESTION: Last weekend, my husband started getting his tax records together, and like every other year, he’s figuring out ways to cheat on his taxes. He says the government would only waste the money anyway, but I’ve told him that doesn’t make it right. Am I being too picky? — Mrs. N.N.

ANSWER: No, you aren’t being too picky, and as tax season approaches, I hope your letter will encourage others to be honest and resist the temptation to cheat on their taxes.

The Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had its problems with inefficiency and corruption, and it often didn’t meet the needs of its citizens and subjects. In addition, its army occupied the land of Jesus’ birth, often in an oppressive way. And yet Jesus told His disciples that they still had a responsibility to pay their taxes. When asked if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, He responded, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17).

If we cheat on our taxes, we aren’t only keeping money that isn’t rightfully ours, but we’re also making it harder for the government to carry out its responsibilities. If we disagree with its policies, we have the responsibility to voice our opinions, especially at the ballot box. The Bible 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” (Romans 13:7).

I hope you’ll encourage your husband to be honest as he prepares his taxes this year. But most of all, I pray that you both will put Christ at the center of your lives. Don’t let anything – including greed, covetousness or money – control your lives, but put Christ and His will first in all things. 
First of all, wow... Someone wrote in to an advice column admitting that they try to cheat on their taxes annually. And an advise column that publishes the letter and reply nationally no less.... Enjoy your audit(s) Mrs. N.N.
Sure, it's outdated. But why does the military get 26.5%
while education only gets 3.5%?

Of course the answer is that they shouldn't cheat on their taxes. Maybe they don't agree with where the tax money will be going. I can understand that. I hate that some of my tax money ends up helping faith based initiatives and the bloated military budget. But two wrongs don't make a right.

But cheating on your taxes because you don't like where some of the money goes doesn't make any sense. While there are things that I don't like my tax money going toward, there are things that I am glad it's going toward. I'm very pleased that a little of my tax money makes it's way to NASA. Some of my money also makes it to national parks, environmental research, medical research, maintaining the roads I use, etc.  While Mr. and Mrs. N.N. don't like some government uses of taxes, I'm sure there are some they do like. So why cut off your nose to spite your face?

While Graham does give some good advice for a change, he also falls into his usual pit of judgement. He tells them to turn to Christ. But they are writing a Christian column on a tax matter instead of a financial expert. Chances are they are already pretty religious. Also, turning to God isn't some magic answer to solving tax wrongs.

Bishop Anthony Jinwright was convicted of tax evasion in 2011. Rev. Dennis Bloom was convicted of the same change last year. (Now) former Pastor Kenneth Hall didn't file his taxes from 1992 to 1995. Monsignor Patrick Brown was found guilty of tax evasion in 2011. Minister Ronald E. Weinland tried to avoid paying $357,065 over five years. These are just a few religious leaders who have been found guilty of tax evasion. And let us not forget the most famous name to be jailed for tax related crimes... radio and television pastor, Kent Hovind.

Obviously, Mr and Mrs. N.N., and everyone else shouldn't cheat on their taxes. Also the fact that I (an atheist) never have cheated on taxes, and so many ("holier than thou") pastors are in jail for tax issues should show that religiosity doesn't make one more honest or moral. There are good people, as well as bad... irrespective of what they believe. Can't we just leave it at that?


-Brain Hulk

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1 comment:

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