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If Jesus were an American citizen today, would He pay taxes? Could He pay taxes without contradicting His word? I have not paid federal income taxes for over twenty years because in good conscience I cannot do so. Yet it should be a privilege for me to pay taxes, because this can be a way of doing God's will. The Lord teaches us: "You must obey, then, not only to escape punishment but also for conscience' sake. You pay taxes for the same reason..." (Rm 13:5-6) However, repeatedly throughout history, man's laws have contradicted God's law. Then it is necessary to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19, 5:29; see also Ex 1:17ff; 1 Mc 2:22; 2 Mc 6:18ff, 7:1ff; Dn 3:12, 6:11).
Many American Christians have come to the conclusion that we are in a similar situation. Some object because over half of our tax money goes to the military and arms. This can be seen as an injustice to the poor who are deprived of bare necessities while millions of tax dollars are spent for the proliferation of implements of destruction. Pope John Paul II said: "The destructive power of modern weapons requires nations to make the most radical rejection possible of them as a means to resolve conflicts."
However, even if our consciences do not object to funding armaments, another moral challenge may be even more disturbing. Planned Parenthood, through promoting abortions, has killed far more people than the Third Reich did. It is the most efficient mass-murder machine ever devised and is funded by our federal tax dollars. It may not use our tax money to abort babies but our taxes buy and maintain the office, hire the personnel, and pay for the counseling that leads to the abortion. Even though an accountant can separate on the books the funding of abortions and the funding of abortion chambers, in reality they are one. What sense does it make to say: "I don't finance abortions. I just pay for the office, the personnel, and the counseling"? Of course, only a small percentage of our federal tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood but those small percentages add up to a multi-billion dollar funding. How can we go on praying for life and paying for death?
If any laws, including the tax laws, are unjust, we may have both the right and the obligation to disobey them. Pope John Paul II has taught: "To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right" (Gospel of Life, 74). "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection" (Gospel of Life, 73).
Are the federal and state laws unjust? This depends in part on what the tax money is being used for. For example, a law taxing us to fund the annihilation of black people would be an unjust law. Certainly, most uses of our tax monies are not immoral, but a small percentage of our taxes fund the chemical and surgical destruction of babies through abortion and abortifacient contraceptives. Through our taxes we are even paying for partial birth abortions, which are even more obvious infanticides than are abortions.
We must disobey an unjust law if we would be directly cooperating with evil by obeying that law. Pope John Paul II has taught: "It is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it" (Gospel of Life, 74). Obeying tax laws is permissible because paying our federal income taxes is not a direct cooperation with evil. However, the Lord may be calling us to disobey them and thereby refuse any, even indirect, participation in evil, for all the mass-murder machines throughout history have been fueled primarily by indirect cooperation.
(1) Continue to pay city and state taxes where abortion is not funded. However, many states fund abortion; so check with your legislatures on this.
(2) File your return but refuse to pay federal income taxes, since you are opposed to funding Planned Parenthood's abortion-machine through your tax dollars. Write a letter explaining your objection. If federal income taxes are automatically withdrawn from your salary, talk to your employer about your legal right to change that.
(3) Do not have cars, houses, bank accounts, and property in your name, because the IRS can take anything of significance for the payment of taxes. This means you give up all legal rights to these possessions.
(4) Pray for the strength to obey God rather than man. Accept Jesus as Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then do what Jesus would do.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Giles H. Pater, May 27, 2004.
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 7, 2004.
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
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