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Avoiding vs. Evading Taxes

There is a distinct difference between avoiding and evading taxes. Avoiding taxestaking steps to pay less than might otherwise be owed—can be a sound and completely legal strategy. An example of this type strategy is taking advantage of the ministers housing allowance, which is afforded to any licensed or ordained minister. Further, contributing to the BMA America 403(b)(9) retirement plan reduces one’s reportable income and results in significant tax savings. Such tax avoidance measures are prudent and part of a good stewardship plan. While tax avoidance is wise, tax evasion is against the law. Failing to report income or claiming more housing expenses than we actually incur cheats the government. In Matthew chapter 22, Jesus famously instructed the Pharisees to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Just as we should set an example to give generously to God, we should also set an example to pay our taxes truthfully to our governing agencies. While few ministers would intentionally cheat the government, sloppy accounting of our personal finances or a flippant attitude about filing our taxes may result in inaccuracies leading to unintended consequences. As ministers of the gospel, let’s strive to ensure that our financial stewardship is above reproach. Since God owns it all, and we are His stewards, may we not do anything that would tarnish His image nor our ability to be salt and light.

Steve Crawley, PhD BMA Financial Executive Director


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