It only takes the innocence of the young to remind us of the evil of the income tax.
Recently, I was helping my son fill out his federal and state payroll tax forms for his first job. A discussion of what his paycheck would look like due to tax withholding led to a discussion on tithing. He was concerned about how much money he would have once taxes were withheld and didn’t want to tithe on the gross as he’s been taught since he would have no use of the withheld money. I explained that what he would eventually choose to do would be his decision but he had to remember that what he was really paid was the gross not the net; pointing out that his labor cost his employer the gross (and then some) not the net; and reminding him that it wasn’t God’s fault that the government took money away from him.
Obviously, this was not what he wanted to hear and he was quite upset, letting loose with a rant about the unfairness of it all. It went along the lines of, “That’s my money! It’s my time and my work! It’s not fair for them to take it. I don’t get to keep it so I’m not tithing on it!”
Initially his anger was directed at me. Eventually though, with a little patience and an empathetic explanation (he was preaching to choir after all), he was able to see that his real beef was with the government. For it’s the government that inserts itself between him and the agreement he made with his employer. It’s the government that takes his money. And, it’s the government that puts itself first in line, cutting in front of God in opposition to His admonition for believers to give the the first fruits of their labor to Him.
With my son’s righteous anger now properly directed, I’m happy to report that the story doesn’t end there. The emotions of his anger have subsided, but his curiosity and concern have not. With the first paycheck came questions about each deduction. “What is it? How is it used?” Now that tax season is here (isn’t it always tax season?), there are still more questions. “Will I owe more? Will I get any back? What if I have to pay?” Yet another opportunity to explain the welfare state and the government’s illegitimate role in our lives.
Confronted for the first time with the first hand experience of payroll withholding of taxes and Leviathan’s looting of his labor, my son’s instinct was to see the process as theft. To make matters worse, it was a theft that he could not defend himself against. And he’s right, for if he were to resist and be persistent in his resistance he would eventually be confronted with the business end of a gun.
This instinct, born from the innocence of youth, gives all Liberty loving parents a golden opportunity. An opportunity to clearly explain to our children the power of the State and it’s propensity to engage in plunder.
Oh, and on the matter of tithing, he decided to tithe on the gross. Well done, son.