Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 404, February 4, 2007

"Bush and his creepy friends."


Does Romans 13 Demand That We Pay Income Taxes?
by Doug Newman

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Jimmy writes:

    ". . .as acts 5:29 says we are to obey God rather than men, and when a government such as the Nazi regime comes into power and tells us to report all Jews in hiding, that government has become un-Biblical and may be rebelled against, but what about less extreme examples? Take, for instance, the incremental destruction of our economic liberties, such as the creation of the income tax, and the Federal Reserve. How can we complain about the income tax when Romans 13:7 tells us to pay taxes?"

I replied:

Thanks for writing. Romans 13:1-7 (1) is the favorite Scripture of control freaks everywhere. However, to read it as demanding total obedience to earthly authorities is absurd. Christianity is an intellectual exercise. We are to love God with our hearts, souls and minds. (Mark 12:30)

No Scripture stands isolated from the rest of God's Word. Disobedience is a common theme throughout Scripture. To cite just a few examples:

  • The three Hebrew children endured the fiery furnace rather than worship Nebuchadnezzar's God. (Daniel 3)

  • Daniel is thrown into the lions' den for defying King Darius. (Daniel 6)

  • Jesus was crucified on political charges—i.e. treason—for claiming to be God and therefore a counterforce to Caesar. (Luke 23:2)

  • Peter and John defy the authorities' decree that they not teach in Jesus' name. (Acts 4:18-20, Acts 5:29)

  • Christianity was an outlaw religion for the first few hundred years of its existence.

  • Several of Paul's letters—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon—were written while he was in Roman jails.

  • The Prophet John wrote the book of Revelation while in exile on the Isle of Patmos.

Moreover, while we hear time and again that "America was founded on Christian values", no one ever tells us what this means. While some Founders were Christian and others were not, their worldview was far more biblical than almost anything we find in the contemporary church. Not only did they say all kinds of nasty things about King George III, many were big time scofflaws! Among them were smugglers, tax resisters and militia members who engaged in shootouts with their own government!

This government was nowhere nearly as large, costly and intrusive as our current government. The people were taxed at less than three percent, there was no war on drugs and no Royal Department of Education. I hope this answers your question about "less extreme examples."

The Declaration of Independence, while not an explicitly Christian document, appeals to a God who takes an active concern in political affairs. When the 56 signers pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, they were dead serious. Many paid huge prices so that you and I could live and breathe in freedom.

Consider also the northerners of good conscience who harbored runaway slaves in the 1850s in defiance of the fugitive slave laws. Consider Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in Alabama in 1955.

Consider all the people who risked their lives either resisting or fleeing from Nazism and Communism.

Consider the underground churches in many countries throughout the world which exist in direct defiance of their governments. The spirit of the early church lives!

The First Commandment states that "You shall have no other Gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) "No other Gods" includes earthly governments.

I am not an expert on various translations of the Bible. However, I invite you to look at Romans 13:1 in the New International Version and then in the King James Version.

  • NIV "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."

  • KJV "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

The concept of "higher powers" is far stronger than that of "governing authorities". The governing authorities of this world are not exempt from God's Judgment. The governors of this world have a Governor. (Psalm 2)

Jesus tells us to "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21)

Concerning this passage, a few observations:

  • Jesus never gets specific about what is Caesar's and what is God's. Indeed, He never assigns any duties to Caesar.

  • The contemporary church would have you think that this Scripture means "Render unto Caesar everything Caesar demands and then sit down and shut up." They never discuss particulars. Jesus' words are a charter of liberty while contemporary church teaching is a recipe for slavery.

  • In America, Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution delegates 18 specific duties to Caesar. The Tenth Amendment forbids any other federal activity. The distinction between what is Caesar's and what is not is very clear.

There you have it: this idea that Christians should always do as told has no practical or scriptural basis.

Let us now address the issue of paying taxes. Romans 13:7 says, "If you owe taxes, pay taxes." But do we owe taxes? I caused quite a stir on some message boards recently when I asked: "Please show me the law requiring us to pay income tax." Click on this link to see the responses I received.

I personally have not had the fortitude yet to test this, but numerous people have. And some have paid dearly. Some have done jail time. (2) This is just a partial list, in no particular order, of people who have either spoken out about the absence of a law requiring us to pay income taxes, questioned the supremacy of the IRS over the church, exposed the fraud of the Sixteenth Amendment or who have challenged the absence of such a law directly by not paying income taxes: Irwin Schiff, Sherry Peel Jackson, Ed and Elaine Brown, Rick Stanley, Devvy Kidd, Robert Schultz, Bill Benson, Joseph Bannister, Larken Rose, Vernice Kuglin, Whitey Harrell, Larry Becraft, Greg Dixon, Gene Chapman, Kent Hovind, Robert Raymond and—most prominently— Aaron Russo.

If you are not seen Mr. Russo's phenomenal documentary "America: Freedom to Fascism", you need to. It chronicles his quest to find out if there is in fact a law requiring Americans to pay taxes on their incomes. No one ever cites the specific law.

When the matter has gone to court, the defendants have almost always had the deck stacked against them. Years ago, a defendant would have the opportunity to a trial by a jury that had far greater power than today's juries. Jurors had the right to judge not only the facts pertaining to a case, but also law relevant to that case. If so much as one juror thought the law was unconstitutional, immoral, stupid or even non-existent, the juror could vote to acquit and the defendant would walk.

Again, I have not had the audacity to test this myself. However, I am profoundly convinced of this: some day I will commit some act of civil disobedience. I do not know when or where or what the details will be. However, I see it coming.

In I Corinthians 7:23, Paul exhorts us not to "become slaves of men." A slave may be described as someone who labors involuntarily for someone else's benefit. A tax on income is a form of slavery.

In America's Constitution, the "things that are Caesar's" are few and defined. Hence, the cost of funding these activities is quite minimal and non-intrusive. The principle of direct taxation on one's labor was abhorrent to the Founders.

The Founders' vision of a minimal state was consistent with a worldview that was heavily influenced by the Bible. Even though God ordained civil government—Romans 13—such government had to be severely limited. Christians have a King, but His Kingdom is not of this earth. (John 18:36) A Christian's true citizenship is in Heaven, and not on earth. (Philippians 3:20)

Jesus sent His followers out "like sheep among wolves" and instructed them to be "shrewd as serpents." (Matthew 10:16) The world will be hostile to Christians. This hostility will take many forms. It is your duty as a Christian to navigate through this world wisely, to discern the endless wiles of the enemy and to stand firm until the end in the face of evil. (Matthew 10:22)


(1) Read Romans 13:1-7 in the NIV and KJV.

(2) Please do not construe anything here as legal counsel.

Posted at Liberty Post and Old Right Pundits.
If you wish to post this or link to it, please let me know and please include a link to this URL. Thanks!—dn


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