How to Be Content with Your Taxes

Corey —  September 7, 2009

       Taxes. Uncle Sam by uhuru1701 on FlickrWe hate to pay them, but we know we must. We don’t like how our tax money is spent, but that doesn’t change the fact that we must still pay our taxes. (It does mean we should be more careful about whom we elect for office though!) Despite our disdain for taxes, is there a way we can become content with our taxes? What I mean is that we must pay taxes so we might as well find a way to be happy about it.

       God has taught us that we must pay our taxes. Jesus gave clear teaching on this, and Paul emphasized it as well in his writings.

       13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Mark 12:13-17 (WEB)

       5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13:5-7 (WEB)

       It’s clear that God wants us to pay the taxes we owe. God wants us to be lights to those around us, and that requires honestly paying our taxes despite how they may be used for good or evil. We are to pay taxes to whomever taxes are owed.

       But I have a few ideas for how we can be content with the taxes we must pay without neglecting our duty to pay them.

Pay Only What You Must

       God’s ways and the laws of our nation only require us to pay the taxes we owe. We are perfectly entitled to reduce that tax liability using any legal means available. The key aspect is that it must be legal. We should not cheat or lie to reduce our tax burden. However, I strongly encourage you to seek every legal means available for reducing your taxes.

       If a tax benefit is available, it would be foolish to neglect it either because you “don’t have the time”, don’t know about it, or feel like it would be wrong to use it because you’ll be paying less taxes. If there’s a legal way to reduce your taxes, you should find out if and how you can use it. It’s that simple.

       By knowing that you’re paying the least amount of taxes required, you can be more content with the taxes you must pay. Know what tax deductions and credits are available for your federal, state, and local income taxes. Take advantage of any sales tax holidays. Look at ways you can reduce your taxes through your investments. Use every available tool to cut back on Uncle Sam’s take of your paycheck.

Use the Services Your Taxes Pay For

       Understand that your taxes pay for services that you already use or should be using. Your taxes pay for roads, schools, social services, libraries, police, military, and the list goes on. Utilize the things your taxes are paying for to make sure you get the most use out of your tax dollars. Again, don’t use dishonesty to game the system, but by all means take advantage of the available resources. After all, you are paying for them!

Let Your Voice Be Heard

       Not all your tax money is spent wisely or for things that benefit you or society. Government waste is a major issue as politicians find ways to use tax revenues to fund special interests and line their own pockets. Even without the corruption we’d still have poor decisions about how to spend tax money. So what can you do?

       Instead of sitting around complaining all the time, let your voice be heard. Vote for representatives whose policies reflect your values, desires, and choices. But don’t stop there! Let your representatives know where you stand on issues. Call them, write them, visit them, and gather support from others to let your politicians know what you want them to do. It’s their job to represent you, so hold them accountable! Use every available means to ensure that your tax dollars are not wasted, and you’ll be a little more content with paying your taxes.

Make It as Painless as Possible

       Finally, make paying your taxes as painless as possible. Getting stuck with a big tax bill in April can deepen the pain of paying taxes. Needless penalties and interest will do the same. Make sure you’re withholding enough from your paycheck and sending in your estimated tax payments on time. Be familiar with your tax liability and know how much you should pay and when so you can avoid any penalties and interest. By having your taxes withheld from your paycheck, you won’t feel the sting of writing a big check in April.

Learn More about How to Reduce Your Taxes

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Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.