Tithing on tax refunds? Yes, that is a thing!
You’re a tither, you see the advantages of it, and are wondering:
Should I tithe on this tax refund or not?”
So let’s answer that!
The History of Tithing
What is tithing? It is defined as: The tenth part of income that is given back to God.
Pretty simple, right?
If you earned $1.00 you’d give $.10 to God in gratitude. It’s not calculus. 🙂
Keep in mind though that in the Old Testament, there were THREE tithes:
- The Levitical, or Sacred, Tithe
- The Tithe of the Feasts
- The Tithe for the Poor
The Sacred Tithe
The Sacred Tithe was given to the Levites and priests for their service to the Temple.
I’m giving the Levites all the tithes of Israel as their pay for the work they do in the Tent of Meeting… They get no inheritance among the People of Israel; instead I turn over to them the tithes that the People of Israel present as an offering to God. That’s why I give the ruling: They are to receive no land-inheritance among the People of Israel.”(Numbers 18:21, 24, MSG)
The Sacred Tithe was the one traced back to Abraham when he gave Melchizedek a tithe of all.
The Tithe of the Feasts
In the Old Testament, God ordained that His people keep His seven holy days–not to mention celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in a temporary dwelling place.
Now, if you’re a modern day family, what are you thinking?
“I gotta get the time off.”
“I gotta put this on my calendar.”
“How much is this gonna cost ??” (The most important one!)
These were not only holy occasions but they also served as mini-vacations. If you ever been to lengthy church functions or “mini-vacays,” you know that there are expenses.
Again, how is this all gonna be paid for?
Simple. With the Tithe of the Feasts.
The second tithe–or Tithe of the Feasts–was saved by the individual for the purpose of being spent on personal use.
Moses told the people that instead of altars and high places throughout the country, they should bring their tithes and eat before God:
Instead find the site that GOD, your God, will choose and mark it with his name as a common center for all the tribes of Israel. Assemble there. Bring to that place your Absolution-Offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and Tribute-Offerings…Feast there in the Presence of GOD, your God. Celebrate everything that you and your families have accomplished under the blessing of GOD, your God.”Deuteronomy 12:5-7 (MSG)
You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your
God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.Deuteronomy 14:22-26 (ESV)
This ☝️☝️☝️ is the Scripture that most people use to get out of tithing. They say,
“Well…there it is! God said I can spend my money WHEREVER I like. He said I can eat my tithe. I don’t have to give it to those crooked preachers! Hallelujah and amen!
They say this not realizing the context of the Scripture.
THIS tithe was set apart for the family, a vacation that glorified Him specifically.
It was God’s will for His people to enjoy abundance and joy in His Presence. This second tithe was a representation of that.
The Tithe for the Poor
The third tithe–or Tithe for the Poor–was a special tithe set aside for orphans, widows, the fatherless, and the strangers.
Unlike the first tithe which was paid year by year, the third tithe was paid only on the increase earned during the third and sixth year of a seven-year period:
At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work.”Deuteronomy 24:28-29 (NLT)
With the nation of Israel, God wanted there to be three focuses:
- Himself–the Sacred Tithe
- The Family–the Tithe of the Feasts
- The Misfortunate–the Tithe for the Poor
Tithing Economics did a really great job of breaking this down.
I’m saying all this to say that in Theo-cratic Israel, the tithes WERE the taxes. Through the tithing system God was able to meet the needs of the society in a fair and equitable way.
In ancient Israel, tithing on tax refunds was not a question.
You might be saying: “But Mike we’re NOT in ancient Israel. Do I have to tithe on my tax refund in 2020?“
Hold on, hold on, let’s get that here.
Tithing on Tax Refunds: What is A Refund?
A tax refund is simply this: an overpayment on last year’s taxes.
It is not free money.
It’s money that is owed to you.
Most people get a refund of Federal and State (unless you live in AK, FL, NV, SD, TX, WA, and WY which don’t have state income taxes.)
Since 2017, there have been less refunds. After the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts there have been numerous changes:
- Individual tax brackets
- Lowering tax rates
- Increasing standard deductions
- And reducing itemized deductions
Again: more take home pay, less refunds. The IRS shows this decrease from 2018 to 2019.
So the question of the day: should you tithe on tax refunds?
My answer: no.
If you’ve tithed on your gross, or pretax income, you’ve ALREADY tithed your return. But if you do decide to tithe on your tax refund, I would consider it an offering.
Either way, give it in faith, be thankful to God for it, and thank Him in advance for the increase.