Saturday, May 14, 2016

God & Fat Caesar

As I listen to folks complain about the lack of money in the wealthiest empire in the history of the world, the solutions offered come in two basic forms: 1) Government needs to raise wages and 2) Government needs to raise walls. (Some may argue for government to do both of these things.)

But I hear next to no one talking about a very doable third option: Government needs to stop taking money from employers and employees. What a concept!

Consider.

Both payroll taxes and income taxes are based on an employee's wages or salary. The difference is who pays. A payroll tax is paid at least partly by the employer, while income taxes are paid by employees.1

The U. S. income tax system—as well as most state income tax systems—requires employers to withhold payroll taxes from their employees' gross salaries and wages. The withholding of taxes and other deductions from employees' paychecks affects the employer in several ways . . . it reduces the cash amount paid to employees . . . it creates a current liability for the employer . . .2

While policymakers obsess about the income tax, they often lose sight of an important detail: For two-thirds of households, the levy that matters most is the payroll tax. . . . Many taxpayers may not even recognize the difference between the two levies, especially since both payroll and income taxes are withheld from their paychecks and the payroll tax is often listed on their pay stub under the cryptic acronym of FICA. Nonetheless, those households who pay their payroll tax but who may owe little or no income tax are often forgotten in the great tax debates in Washington.3

What could happen to incomes in America if our government didn’t take money by force from those who pay and from those who earn wages? I think it’s possible—even likely—that we’d see more jobs and higher wages.

Certainly there would be consequences—intended and unintended. (This is true of every idea.) But do you think it may actually be worth trying? Could we at least talk about it? Well, it doesn’t seem likely. Small, non-intrusive government just isn’t on the menu these days.

Nevertheless, Christ tells us to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. So, we surrender the taxes. (I’m not sure if we do this because we love Jesus so much or jail so little…but the beat goes on. It must! Gluttonous Caesar has a voracious appetite, you know.)

Okay, enough about money. There are things far, far more important than taxation.

Jesus also says we should give to God what is God’s. Where’s your heart these days, dear reader? About what or whom are you most passionate, most loyal, and most protective? Find your treasure. Find your heart.
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