It is that time of the year again. Americans everywhere have either already filed their tax returns or are making plans to do so. It is an annual ritual that we are all accustomed to doing. Usually the deadline for filing one’s taxes is April 15th, unless one files for an extension. This year, apparently due to unique burdens imposed on people and corporations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the deadline has been extended to mid-May.
However, there always are some individuals who put off filing their taxes and ignore the obligation, and there is another group who intentionally refuse to file a tax return or become tax resisters for any number of reasons. There must be a significant number of people in these groups as this is the season where there are ads placed by some firms who promise to help people do their overdue filings and “make things right” with the IRS. Occasionally, I post on this topic to warn readers to be sure to file their tax forms and to avoid becoming any kind of “tax resister.” I wrote such posts in 2012 and 2019, and I am posting my previous post on this topic as a timely reminder to long-time readers of my blog as well as to introduce this topic to new readers of my blog who have never seen my previous posts on this subject. I admit I do not understand the mind-set which refuses to pay any taxes. The Bible is clear that believers should pay civil taxes (Luke 20:22-25, Romans 13:6-7)). Also, since I served for a decade as a government employee in a Mayor’s office and in a Metropolitan government agency in the Twin Cities, I realize that government services are extensive and cost a lot of money. Everyone uses roads, bridges, airports, etc. Every city and county need police and fire protection. States need game management personnel, issue driver’s licenses and license plates and a host of other necessary activities. Many governmental jurisdictions have their own utility operations. We all have an obligation to pay our share of taxes to support these services we all use.
Since I addressed the biblically-related material in an article (Christian Rights and Citizenship Responsibilities) that relates to this topic in my previous post below, I won’t repeat them here. I urge you to read that article to apply biblical principles to both tax matters and daily life in these challenging times.
Personally, I stopped preparing my own taxes many years ago. Due to the complexity of the tax laws, I think it is best to give all pertinent information to a professional tax preparer and let them do the work. Some people with very simple forms to complete will not need a preparer. There are various tax-preparation services where filers can prepare their tax forms on-line so they can do it in a paperless fashion. This is a good time to remind readers that taxes and good citizenship are important biblical topics. Don’t be any kind of a tax resister and don’t participate in tax-avoidance schemes. You will save yourself a world of hurt by simply filing your taxes and paying them yearly. I hope the information and biblically-based analysis below will be of assistance to all readers.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD AVOID THE “SOVEREIGN CITIZEN” MOVEMENT
by Steven M. Collins | Jun 27, 2019
This post is a follow-up to one I wrote in 2012 about an issue that periodically surfaces in the media. It involves the “sovereign citizen” movement, whose adherents think that they need not be subject to any of the laws of human governments. Unfortunately, a certain number of professing Christians can fall for this extremist and dangerous mindset, and this post is written to discourage all readers from ever being involved with this movement.
This topic came to my attention again recently when a report was aired on our local media about a person who was in trouble with the law because of his refusal to obey man-made laws and his propensity to harass and threaten local officials in the city in which I reside (first link). Another case surfaced recently in Missouri where someone refused to follow the basic directions of police officers because of a belief the police somehow had no jurisdiction over him (second link). The people who adopt and act on the belief that they are, essentially, a “law unto themselves” often have things end badly for them. They usually receive jail sentences or are hit with back-tax penalties if they are tax protesters.
When someone actually believes that they are not subject to any laws made by human governments, they are adopting an extremely anarchist point of view. Sometimes proponents of the “sovereign citizen” movement couch their outreach efforts in religious or some kind of Constitutional terminology. However, the US Constitution cannot be used to support such anarchist viewpoints as the Constitution sets forth the fundamental laws of the land which outline and detail federal and state powers to which citizens of the United States must adhere. The US Constitution defines and mandates law-abiding behavior, not personal anarchy. The sovereign citizen concept runs entirely contrary to what the Bible teaches concerning the citizenship responsibilities of Christians. I wrote a post on this topic seven years ago which cites biblical teachings that brand the sovereign citizen movement as being one that is contrary to biblical laws and guidance. I refer readers to that post as many readers may not have read this post in the archives of my blog.
The sovereign citizen movement sometimes advocates the non-payment of taxes to any level of government. Not only is this a non-biblical teaching, but it is a personally dangerous belief to follow or advocate. Refusing to pay taxes could eventually result in a prison sentence, and I doubt any “sovereign citizen” will find any sympathy from any judge at any level of the judicial system. I once knew a pastor decades ago who was convinced that a particular tax-avoidance scheme involving routing his paychecks through a foreign entity would result in no tax liability for him on his federal income taxes. This action on his part resulted in much personal misery for him and he was fortunate to pay only back taxes and tax penalties while avoiding a prison term. This pastor encouraged me to participate in that tax evasion scheme, but I avoided it like the plague. As I relate in my seven-year-old post in the third link, all citizens utilize essential governmental services which are funded via some form of taxation.
People who refuse to obey laws because they believe human governments have no right to govern them will, inevitably, attract a great deal of governmental attention and governmental involvement in their lives–the exact thing they are apparently trying to avoid. Also, with the increased digitization of all information and data in all developed nations, there is increasingly no way to avoid government scrutiny of one’s personal finances and tax compliance. I still urge everyone to pay their taxes to their respective governments. Federal tax laws are often so complex that it is best to hire a licensed C.P.A. or certified tax accountant to prepare one’s taxes to be sure they are calculated and filed properly.
Those wishing more information about the sovereign citizen movement can review further information about their eclectic views and history in the fourth link. For a biblical analysis of why this movement is contradictory to biblical teaching, please read the third link and also my free article, Christian Rights and Citizenship Responsibilities, which examines the larger question of how Christians can exercise their rights in modern societies while living in harmony with their responsibilities toward the various levels of government. Those principles will apply to all readers regardless of the nation in which they reside.
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