That was the headline in the Evening Standard in London last Thursday evening. My first thought – of course people don’t avoid paying taxes, they complain about them, they aim to pay the minimum amount, but that everyone is taking steps to avoid it is quite shocking.
When we avoid paying tax it is like we are saying that we are not prepared to be responsible for each other, we do not want to build a community that enables everyone to flourish and grow strong.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was talking about business and taxes last week and reminded us all of important biblical teachings about this. He says, “It comes back to the very simple principle that we see in what Jesus Christ spoke of – the
importance of paying what’s due. The Bible speaks of it endlessly,”
As I thought about this further – to pay your taxes is a way of saying ‘I love my neighbour’ one of the two great commandments that Jesus taught us. We all have responsibilities to pay our way and it has been agreed through our government representatives – our MP’s that taxes are necessary to pay for those things we all benefit from
As the Archbishop said, “tax is part of saying I belong to this place, I benefit from the fact that we have the police, a health service and a welfare system, we have external security – tax says I’m part of that and therefore I contribute to it.”
It is important as Christians we show our commitment to each other in being honest in our money dealings, helping society though our work, whether it is paid or voluntary. It is wrong to say that tax avoidance is okay, because everyone is doing it. No we are not all trying to avoid taxes – some people would welcome the opportunity to be in work so that their standard of living is improved and that paying taxes is a symbol of being able to be part of society.
If we want to benefit from the things that taxes pay for, then we have to accept the responsibility of paying our taxes the same as everyone else when we can.