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How Does G-d Deal With Taxes?

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Topic: How Does G-d Deal With Taxes?

TLA wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Could you please give me any insight you may have regarding the proper role of government regarding taxation? As an example, here in America the top 5% of the taxpayers paid 54% of the federal income tax revenue. The top 50% of taxpayers paid 95.8%. The bottom 50% paid 4.2%. How does G-d address this perceived inequity?

Dear TLA,

I imagine G-d addresses taxes the same way I do:

Internal Revenue Service Center
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0015

My own personal observation about taxes comes from Genesis, where the starving Egyptians approach Pharaoh's viceroy, Joseph. Having nothing left to sell, they offer themselves as slaves in exchange for food. The deal is done, and all Egypt become Pharaoh's slaves. How was their slavery expressed? They needed to give 20 percent of their land's produce to Pharaoh. So, it's easy to understand why someone paying tax of 20% or more feels like he is a slave in Egypt. (Ironic, isn't it, that U.S. tax season comes out around Passover?)

Still, according to Jewish law, a percentage system where people with more money pay more tax is not a perceived inequity:

If a community builds a wall to protect against theft, says the Talmud, those with more money must give more toward the wall's construction. The more a person has, the more he benefits from the wall.

So, today, someone who owns large parts of Downtown Dallas (speaking of Taxes) benefits dozens of times more from the Dallas Police Force than does the average Joe. Did you buy stock in Coca Cola ten years ago? Your black gold was delivered to the thirsty on roads paved with tax-money.

The Torah also mandates a charity system, where field-owners and owners of livestock must give specified gifts and percentages to the needy. People below a certain economic line are exempt from some of these requirements. So we see a precedent for a "graduated" system whereby wealthier people are required to give more.

  • Genesis 47:18-24 (However, this likely was 20% before deducting expenses.)
  • Nedarim 28a
  • Baba Batra 7b

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