Tax time again! For many, the time of year when we calculate and pay our taxes can be less than jubilant. In fact, it can involve worry, fear, or even anger. Is there a better way to look at taxes?
I like to think of taxes as buying something that can be shared with others – for instance, improvements for roads or support for the fire department or local school district. Seen in this way, taxes are a giving of what we have to help our neighbors and our community. But what if we feel that taxes are not fair, that we are paying a disproportionate percentage of the whole, or that government officials are not doing their part to make smart choices with our money? Or what if we simply don’t have the money to pay what we owe?
In the Gospel of Matthew, we read that the disciple Peter was approached by temple tax collectors who insinuated that Jesus’ payment of taxes, his “tribute,” was overdue (see 17:24–27). When Peter raised this with Jesus, Jesus asked him whom tax collectors usually collect from, their own friends and family or just from others? Others, Peter replied. A “not fair” moment! The implication here is that some people were excused from contributing. Jesus went on to acknowledge this societal fact and instructed Peter to pay the tax for the two of them anyway. But he also had an idea of where to get the money. He knew God would provide.
Jesus told Peter to go down to the lake and start fishing, then open the mouth of the first fish he caught, and there would be a coin sufficient to pay the tax. While I’ve read that Bible scholars differ as to whether Peter may have actually found a coin in a fish’s mouth or whether he may have used his skills as a fisherman to catch a fish and sell it for the needed cash, the point is the same: When we are in need, God provides supply.
We today can also turn to God, divine Truth and Love, for guidance and supply when it comes to paying taxes. We might not go fishing for money, but we may well get inspiration from Father-Mother God when we consult Him, Her, and then listen with trust and expectation to discern an answer to our need.
An article entitled “Angels” in "Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896" by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, says: “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love!” (p. 307). God doesn’t give us material things but spiritual ideas that allow us to be open and receptive to His exacting, specific care and guidance.
A few years ago, when tax season was upon us, our taxes were quite high, and I dreaded thinking about how we were going to come up with the necessary funds to pay what we owed. But instead of worrying, I turned to God in prayer.
I strove to see taxes not as a burden but as a way to express gratitude for my community and my country. I looked for ways to appreciate the spiritual aspects of what tax money provided. For example, money for schools provided our town’s children with insight, global understanding, and experiences in which to apply important aspects of what they had learned. I affirmed that divine Love was really serving and caring for all the members of our community and our country and that divine Love’s resources were infinite to bless, maintain, and care for all.
Shortly after I adopted this prayer and attitude in daily practice, I got an email message from one of our sons saying that he had come across an internet site listing people who had unclaimed funds. Various banks and other establishments were looking to find these people and return their assets to them. He had noticed that my name was on the list. I quickly pursued this lead and was reunited with an amount of money that covered our taxes that year. It was almost too good to believe! But why should it be, since God is infinite good and is always supplying us with just what we need?
There has not been another instance of finding my name on such a list, but every year at tax time I make it a point to remember that it is divine Love that is caring for, providing for, and supplying each of us as we pay our taxes. The more we can see this as a contribution – one of gratitude and spiritual input – the more we will find we have what is needed, even if we don’t know all the details yet. As the Apostle Paul said, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8).
Adapted from an article published in the April 2, 2018, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.