For the past year or two we have been giving based on gross income (before tax), and I know we have been blessed by it. But I recently heard Rabbi Daniel Lapin say the tithe is to be after-tax money, not before because tax isn’t money that comes to you.
That doesn’t sound right to me
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed that the field bringeth forth year by year – Deuteronomy 14:22
Taking a broad look at the scripture, it sounds as if I should give 10% on everything I earn, not just what I bring home. So why would America’s Rabbi say that my interpretation is incorrect?
Argument with myself
The side of me that argues to continue tithing on the gross (Before-tax me) is arguing with the After-tax me.
Before-tax me: I wouldn’t mind giving a smaller tithe if it were the right thing to do.
After-tax me: What makes you think after-tax is the wrong thing?
Before-tax me: Well, my true “increase” would be all my benefits from earning a paycheck. That would include the money I pay to Washington for the privilege of having an organized government (insert your own joke here).
After-tax me: Your employer pays some benefits that you never see on your paycheck. You don’t tithe on those, do you?
Before-tax me: Good point. I never thought of that. But I want to play it safe so I’ll tithe on my known “before-tax” amount.
After-tax me: It isn’t about playing it safe. It’s about being faithful.
Before-tax me: Isn’t the right thing to be giving the correct amount for a tithe?
After-tax me: Tithing is a spiritual thing, not a bill from God. This isn’t a salvation issue Steve.
Before-tax me: Exactly. So I believe I should give on the gross.
After-tax me: You could, but that leaves you with less money to do other things with. You could give more to other charities or take better care of your family if you tithed on the net amount (after-tax).
Before-tax me: Why does it sound like you are selfish?
After-tax me: Hey, you started it. Isn’t Rabbi Lapin a trusted resource of ours? He’s the one that said to tithe after-tax. I’m just agreeing with him.
Before-tax me: Duly noted. All your points have been very logical but I’m still not convinced. Why is that?
After-tax me: Like I said, this is a spiritual thing. You actually don’t have to give anything if you didn’t want to. But if you do believe Jesus Christ’s teachings are his instruction book for we should live our life then you should follow his guide on tithing.
Before-tax me: I am!
After-tax me: So why are we arguing?
Before-tax me: I guess I’m concerned that if you are right then I might become more selfish with that amount which will no longer be given.
After-tax me: Look. If the tithe really is supposed to be based on after-tax income, it means I am right. But I would still be wrong because your belief system is based on faith, and your faith is saying before-tax.
Before-tax me: I’m still confused.
After-tax me: Taxes will do that do ya.
What do you believe? Should I continue tithing on my gross earnings or my after-tax income?