Paul L. Caron

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Hasen: Taxation Of Work In Christian Theology

David Hasen (Florida; Google Scholar), Taxation of Work in Christian Theology:

How should Christian theological principles inform rules for the taxation of work? The answer to this question is ambiguous because work plays an ambiguous role in the life of the believer. Scripture accords dignity to work, but work, like almost any activity, can become an idol; depending on its content, work also can be harmful to the worker or to others. Similarly, work, or certain kinds of work, may be systematically underpaid or overpaid. For these reasons, recommendations about the optimal taxation of work in any given case depend on the larger tax system and indeed on the larger economic, social and political conditions in which the tax system operates.

This chapter considers the general principles that Christians should apply in evaluating the taxation of work in particular cases. In keeping with contemporary circumstances, it adopts the perspective of a Christian who lives under a non-theocratic government that is essentially neutral towards religion. I argue that the operative Scriptural principles are the dignity of work, concerns about idleness and “workaholism,” care for the less fortunate and reduction of inequality, and that these principles provide useful guidelines in the consideration of tax policy.

This paper was written as an invited chapter in a forthcoming book on taxation from a Christian perspective, sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation, the UVA Center for Tax Law, and the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.

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