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    Dodging the tax man – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Does Jewish law say I have to pay taxes?

    A. Definitely. This has been affirmed many times by halachic authorities. Since society provides you with a range of services you have to pay your share of funding them, so long as you or the group of citizens you belong to are not discriminated against by being overcharged.

    There were times when regimes imposed oppressive tax rates on Jews, but today if you live in what Rabbi Moshe Feinstein called m’dinat chessed (“a moral regime”), your Jewishness has nothing to do with your responsibility to pay taxes. If you don’t pay your share, you are stealing from your fellow-citizens: the Shulchan Aruch also says (Choshen Mishpat 369) that failing to pay your taxes to the king (or other ruler) means that you are also stealing from the king. If you think that tax rates (everybody’s) are too high, democratic means of protest are available.

    The duty to pay taxes applies not only in relation to the state but within Jewish communal life too. In some places, Jewish communities had legal as well as moral power to tax their members to pay for communal services, but most modern communities rely on voluntary contributions. One of our problems is people who use the facilities which a synagogue provides without paying a cent towards the cost. I hesitate to say it, but those who take from the synagogue and don’t give are stealing from the community.

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