The first link is about a story that was released by the local media in my city. A well-known local businessman was indicted for not paying any federal income taxes for the last decade. His justification for doing so had something to do with the “sovereign citizen” movement which is an eclectic mixture of beliefs, but it encourages its adherents to not pay taxes, get drivers licenses or car license plates, etc. or anything else that makes you subject to US federal, state and local laws (see second link). Adherents of this belief usually renounce their US citizenship in order to call themselves “sovereign citizens.” This story leaped out at me as the individual involved was well-known in the local Christian community and he had maintained a popular Christian retreat center for many years which was used by believers in many denominations.
The second link was found in a websearch, and it discusses the FBI’s interest in pursuing and arresting people who declare themselves “sovereign citizens.” The federal government regards those involved with this movement as threats to public safety. Since it is apparent that some believers are getting involved with the sovereign citizen movement, I felt this post was worthwhile to give to readers in America (or any other nation).
This post is to strongly urge any readers of this blog to not become involved with any kind of “sovereign citizen” group. To do so is only to ask for immense trouble to come down on you and it needs to be stressed that the sovereign citizen movement has no biblical support for its positions at all! Romans 13:1-7 gives us clear instructions that believers are to respect government authorities as part of one’s obligation to God and verse 7 specifically states: “Pay all of them their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due…” (RSV). This scripture clearly shows that Christians should be good citizens and that tax-evaders are not being obedient to biblical teachings. There will be rare occasions when believers must put God’s laws ahead of man’s laws (Acts 5:29). but these instances will be rare indeed. In the Acts 5:29 example, Peter and other apostles were refusing to obey the instructions of human ecclesiastical authorities (the Pharisees and Jewish priests of Judea); they were not disobeying any laws of the Roman Empire.
There are all kinds of taxes that American citizens pay. There are federal and state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc. Believers should pay all of them when they are due. I really don’t understand the “sovereign citizen” mentality. Do they refuse to pay gas taxes when they put gas in their cars? Do they refuse to pay liquor taxes or cigarette taxes if they drink and smoke? Do they pay sales taxes on food products when they go to a grocery store? Since they have to pay these taxes to obtain such products, they are being awfully selective about which taxes they pay. No one enjoys paying taxes, but they are a duty for all of us to pay. Years ago, I did my own federal income tax filings, but then the tax laws became so complex that I now hire a Certified Public Accountant firm to do my taxes each year as they keep track of the ever-changing US tax code. If you are bewildered by the tax forms, obtain the services of a tax preparation service, but be sure to file and pay your taxes. The Bible requires this of us.
Keep in mind when Paul wrote Romans 13:1-7, he was writing to belivers who were ruled by the utterly-dictatorial Roman Empire which often had Caeasars who were deranged and thought they were gods. All believers then had to endure “taxation without representation.” When Caesar Augustus made a special taxing decree throughout his empire, did Joseph and Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) declare themselves “sovereign citizens” and refuse to pay this tax? Of course not! They journeyed to their home city, Bethlehem, in order to pay the tax.
If you don’t like the tax laws, our representative system of government allows you to get involved with the legislative branches of federal, state and local governments who write the various tax laws. Feel free to contact your elected governmental representatives to try and urge them to change the laws if you feel the need to do so.
In conclusion, I very much hope that no reader of this blog will ever be duped into adopting the views of the “sovereign citizen” movement. It is a non-biblical movement, and must be avoided. I mention the sovereign citizen movement in my free article, Christian Rights and Citizenship Responsibilities, which examines the biblical obligations of Christians toward their respective governments on a wide variety of matters.