Tithing Before or After Taxes

tithing-tax-return

I just received  a question in an email, “Should i tithe before or after taxes”. It’s a good question. Even though there are many other difficult questions in regards to tithing, many people have been confused for some time about whether they should tithe on the gross or net. Everything seemed pretty cut and dry with Israel in the Bible, but it doesn’t seem that way with us since so much has changed with the New Testament Church.

First, we don’t have Levites and priests. Second, we don’t have a temple, or storehouses.  We don’t even have the Mosaic law. On top of that, we’ve been given some new things. We now have the Holy Spirit and are under grace. We are also under a new covenant. We are born again, and one of God’s sons. This list of changes from the Old Testament into the New Testament is a nightmare to weed through.

Let’s face it. Finding out whether you should tithe before or after taxes should be an easy question to figure out. There are many other more questions that do not seem to have such clear answers in the bible:

  • Should i tithe on retirement
  • Should i tithe on gifts
  • Should i tithe on my investment returns
  • Should i tithe on the benefits of my health insurance?
  • Should i tithe on car insurance claims?
  • Should i tithe on social security
  • Is tithing before or after taxes?
  • Can i count christian education towards tithing
  • Can i tithe to a charity?
  • Can i tithe to friends and family?

. . . and the list goes on and on . . .

Ok, so you get the point. Tithing is a complicated matter. Tithing before or after taxes is just the beginning of the complications. Through all of this i am reminded of the verse In Romans 2:29 – “and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter

Those who have a heart towards God will seek obedience. So i understand why they questions in regards to the tithing command. But Godly Stewardship is not in the letter, it is of the heart and in the Spirit. Some may see fit to include a 10% requirement within the spirit of the law, but when confronted about whether 10% is a reflection of their heart, they answer, “No”. If a 10% commitment is not a reflection of their heart then how can it be within the spirit of the law?

The point is that all these questions about tithing show how 10% giving is a part of the letter and not of the spirit. The regulations about what you can give, who you can give to, how much you can give, when and where; are all part of the letter that kills. if you don’t think it kills, just look at how people stumble over 1 tithing question. Let alone, a hundred more that the bible doesn’t even give you answers for; because the instructions for tithing were given under the Old Covenant.

With Spirit led giving in the New Testament, the command to tithe is overwritten and fulfilled.  If the law was fulfilled, that means its purpose is used up. You cannot continue to use and add more water to a bucket of water when it has fulfilled its purpose. It is full and finished with its job. It is not abolished. It is just fulfilled. Now, you need a different bucket that allows you to fill up with more water. Thank God for Spirit-led giving in its place.

Jared Bartholomew is the author of www.tithing.com. There are over 300 articles written on research and reviews about tithing information.

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19 comments on “Tithing Before or After Taxes
  1. Tom in Omaha says:

    Following is part of a lay witness article in our new stewardship newsletter, Grace & Gratitude: “I also discovered that giving only from our excess and overflow isn’t what Jesus asks of us, nor does he ever ask for a specific portion of our income. The question we face is not about giving two percent or ten percent. God doesn’t ask for just a part of us; we are accountable for what we do with all of our work, wisdom, and wealth.”

  2. Melani Y. says:

    I found the link to this article from Yahoo Tithing group. I love this article; especially the last paragraph.

    Very profound!

  3. Melani,
    thanks for stopping by. It took me a long time for my little pea brain to come up with the bucket of water analogy.

    – jared

  4. Heidi says:

    Good good stuff, well said. Keep up the great work!

  5. Victor says:

    If the members tithe from the gross income the Pastor and his family can go for luxury vactions 5 times a year but if they tithe from net income the Pastor and his family take only 3 luxury vactions!

  6. Tinus engelbrecht says:

    I realy are confused of giving tenth or should the ould testament be thrown away.Why are their then a ould testament IF IT IS THEN FULLFILLED BY THE CROSS OF JESUS.THE GOD HAVY IS THE SAME AS 6THOUSEND YEARS AGO.i want to obey GOD that is why i want to be specific.Father GOD JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.PLEAS ANSWER ME.

  7. Robert Burke says:

    So, I take it since you didn’t actually answer the question, you are leaving it up to the person to decide?

    I was thinking about when you wrote all those other options out, some of them would be dependent on pre- or post- tax tithing.

    If you tithe on your gross, you are tithing on the money that is taken out for retirement, social security, 401K, (possibly even car insurance or health insurance benefits), etc. so why would you tithe on it again just because you received a check from it. Now, if you tithe on your net, it would make sense to tithe when you receive checks from these benefits. Of course, it’s hard to tithe on car insurance and Health benefits when they don’t ever actually hand you the money.

    The Bible says tithe off your first-fruits, which is money you have physically worked for and earned. But then, what are your firstfruits? Does that include money you don’t even get to use because it’s taken away from you before you even see your check?

    Gifts can be tricky. The person who gave the monetary gift to you (if a Christian) may have already tithed on that money. How many times do you tithe on money that has been tithed on? But then, there is the side, God allowed you to get that gift so you recognize God’s hand in providing something special for you.

    Definitely an interesting subject. Personally, I tithe on gross income. But that’s just me. I’m not really sure if net tithing would be wrong or not.
    .-= Robert Burke´s last blog ..Project updates =-.

    • blessed says:

      Hi Robert,

      To keep the law according to the old covenant you cant just keep one law and ignore the other 600 Mosiac law.

      Apostle Paul said, you need to keep the whole Mosiac law .

      We as christians have no right to enter the old covenant God had with Israel.

      Christians only came in after Jesus died on the cross.

      Do not mix the blood of Jesus with the blood of animals

      Have a good day

    • Robert,
      I don’t believe that we are required to tithe anyway. If you read the post, you will see that i said the tithe is fulfilled.

      – jared
      .-= steward´s last blog ..Incompatible Systems: Tithing v. Holy Spirit =-.

  8. Shannon says:

    In my experience we are to tithe,and give alms of the substance of things we have, and then everything is clean to us. I would go with what you make without being taxed first, it would never hurt to pay more. If a person’s reason for not paying with what they make before taxes is because, the money they make, makes certian things possible for them, to buy,or fund, and if that thing isn’t really pleasing to the Lord, then trying to justify not paying on one’s income before taxes, would be dishonest,and wrong. We are to give alms of such things as we have, I usually go with 10% Tithe, 10% Offering, & 10% Alms of whatever amount I believe I have, before, or after taxes. I encourage prayer,and openess towards God on the subject, he will direct you in the right way. We were set free from the Law, so we could establish the Law. Love is the furfillment of the Law, because if we love, we won’t kill someone we love, if we love, we will be faithful to them, if we love, we will not steal from them, if we love, we will respect them, if we love, we will treat them the way would have them treat us. The ritualistic ordinances of the Mosaic Law, aren’t a requirement because of the complete obediance of Jesus Christ. We are free from the obligations written in the Mosaic law, but not free to do wrong. Lying is wrong, Stealing is wrong, Sexual immorality is wrong, Killing is wrong, disrespecting parents is wrong. This is supposed to be all centered around the law of love. A lot of people error, when they hear, we are no longer under the law. They think we can do whatever we want, as long as love is the motive. The thing is God ordained the Apostle Paul, to instruct us on how we are free from the Law, to manifest the works of the Law, to be made righteous with God. The Holy Spirit now helps us live a pure,and Holy life in Christ. Motivated by pure love. A lot of people try to justify certain things, claiming it is because of love, when it contradicts what the Apostle instructed us as being appropriate. Like for example, people claim, Homosexuality, Fornication, and other related things as being lawful to perform, or do, as long as it is centered around love. This is a mistake, as it is against God’s image,and God’s way of love. God is love..

  9. Shannon says:

    God ordained the Apostle Paul, to instruct the Church on how to behave, after being born again, and what is appropriate,and what isn’t. We have to accept God’s plan, some people try to change it for their own agenda, man’s will, not God’s will. Back on the subject of tithing, I believe this is appropriate, as way of bringing your own desires into subject to a sense of loyalty to God,and to others. Paul said, though everthing is lawful for me, I will not be controled by anything. Another thing, the love of money is the root of all evil, and some have errered at this, fear God, do not risk decieving yourself. 10%, of one’s income isn’t really what God’s word specifically says, in fact it was the first fruits that came forth during the time of harvest, that they honored God with. It was about remembering God,and honoring God for his blessings, because they undoubtedly came from him. Another example was the lepers Jesus cleansed, when he had cleansed all of them, and only one turned back,and gave God the thanks for it. The first,and greatest commandment of all, is the love God above all, with all that you are, then your neighbor, as yourself..thanks

  10. Justin says:

    I do not believe that tithing is required under the new covenant, however there is nothing wrong with wanting to honour God with an offering of a tithe if you feel led to do so. But it must not be done out of compulsion, otherwise it becomes a burden.
    When debating tithing off gross or net, remember that an offering is acceptable to God based on what you have, not what you dont have, therefore you should give an offering of a tithe based on net, what you bring in, since taxes and etc’s will probably take up 25-50% of your gross depending on your tax bracket. Otherwise we can get real religious (or religulous), trying to figure out tithe amounts of gifts, and should or shouldnt I tithe on social security since it is already tithed on (how stupid can we actually get with this stuff)?
    Since NT believers arent required to tithe, a better way to honour God might be with a first fruits offering, Im debating/contemplating giving God the entire first paycheck of any new job I get, however big or small it might be, and seeing what He will do.
    Justin

  11. Jon from Chandler says:

    I’m grateful I found this post and other comments. 

    I’m not biblically versed as many who have posted here, and do not think I could add much to the conversations.

    I truly came to this post/blog with questions about a formula, and realize that the formula does not exist. Everyone’s posts have got me thinking in a different, more complete way, and I appreciate it.

    I don’t know what I’ll continue to tithe (gross or net) and I know that it is my battle within me, and nothing else. Good to know.

  12. Clem Ainabe says:

    The answer to the question that propelled me to this website is yet to be answered. The dilemma as to whether tithe should be pre or post tax remains. I have been tithing on my net or take home income – what I get after “Uncle Sam”, medical insurance and other mandated deductions (no 401K / 403B) are made. I also tithe on my Tax Returns and gifts.
    I wish someone will be categorical in stating what we as Born Again Christians should base our tithe on; 10% of pre or post taxes????
    I will keep praying and asking the Holy Ghost for guidance and direction on this important matter.
    Thanks to all the contributors.

  13. Wes says:

    I apprecaite everyone’s post.  To seek God’s desire for you is so important I believe.  He has given us the Holy Spirit.  Seek and you will find, ask and you will be given.  He desires us to seek His will for us.  Concerning law, accepting the gift of the Cross is to not be bound by the law.  In all things, trust and have faith in acceptance of his gift, he spent too much for it for us to throw it away.  This is about being free and not as slaves.  I would encourage you to read the book of Galatians.  I don’t know everything and I have seen the blessing of God from giving tithes and offerings in my life.  I wish this subject was preached about more in churches as tithe tends to still lead the subject and I fear it is because people may feel released from the need to give to the church.  I believe our calling under LOVE is greater than the law.  I also see it as understanding the purpose of the law as Jesus often explained to the men of law of that day.  To love is to give of yourself.  Love is selfless and I think this is at the core.  I believe that 100 percent of income belongs to God and one of the area that God is working on me right now is how I spend and treat that money is a significant relection of our slant towards Gods control over our lives.  I believe the idea of spirit lead giving falls into spirit lead living and spending all things God intrusts with us.  If we are so bound by the need to give tithe that it prevents us from giving to the needy and those God called us to help, then I think we have misunderstood.  But give, give generously.   This is a reflection of God’s desire to bless you.  He will still bless you and not to give to get, but to give of yourself enables God to return to you.  If the law was to lead us to Christ, with Christ, what is his expectation.  Give till it hurts maybe?  Be prudient in all things, caring for one another.  Being able to give is also important if that is what God has called you to do.  I would not let 10 percent be a stumbling block, but I have heard people say that is a good place to start.  I don’t know, trust God, but be a cheerful giver and don’t be selfish, give to those that need, support your local church, support the furthering of the kingdom across the world and don’t forget about your backyard.  God loves us and only wants good for us.   He may call some of us to give 90 or more percent.  For the women of gave all she had, that was 100%.  I pray that God bless you and keep you and give you peace.  In all things, give him glory!!!!  ( I love you Jesus and I pray everything I have said honors you and correct it if it has not.  )

    Wes

  14. I think CS Lewis frames this debate best:

    “Giving to the poor is an essential part of Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I’m afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, and amusement, is up to the standard common of those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things that we’d like to do but cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

  15. Linda says:

    My take on tithing is this: Back in the day when people farmed, raised cattle, etc., they gave as they prospered. If at the end of the year they made money, they tithed 10 percent. If they made no money, they tithed nothing. In those days, they were also taxed whether they made anything or not. At the end of 7 years if they owed anybody, the debts were forgiven (thus, modern day bankruptsy). Also, back in the day, churches took care of widows and orphans and poor people and they took all their extra food, etc. to the church store house to take care of their members. Today, welfare has taken over the job of the church when it comes to taking care of the widows and orphans and the poor people. Churches don’t do their job anymore…let’s face the facts. So, back in the day, people gave as they prospered and the church took care of those that didn’t. Since welfare came about, this is where the church and state messed everything up. The “state” took over the churches job. Now, when people work all their lives, we assume that they gave their tithing to the church and when they retire, they have already paid taxes and tithes on that money and it’s all theirs now…none should go to the church. It would be different if the church took care of them in their old age and if your church happens to be one of the few that does right, then by all means, tithe. Retirement money, 401k’s, Social Security, Railroad Retirement, Postal Retirement is money that has already been taxed. The Bible says to give to Ceasar what he wants then give a tithe. Ceasar means the government in this day and age. My personal opinion is this…since churches do not take care of the people they are supposed to, then follow your heart and give your tithes to the places that do take care of those who need taken care of. If you want to truly give to the Lord and give a tithe or offering, give it to a soup kitchen, give it to a family in need, give it to a family that has sickness and illness where the money is going to good use. I’ve had people tell me that if I give my money to someone other than the church, then the ones I give it to will know I gave it and that it didn’t come from the Lord and it doesn’t count. Well, I disagree. I do not believe in giving to a church who does not help a soul. Churches now have “poundings” where you take food to the church to help feed someone. I say they should already have a pantry there ready to give to those in need. The churches also have “singings” to help with those people who need money for funerals and to help pay expenses for people who travel to and from medical facilities and they also have “love offerings” for that same thing. To me, it’s not right to tithe 10% and do all that stuff too. I want to know that my tithes go for those things that people can use. I don’t feel like we should give 10% to a preacher to ride expensive cars and live in mansions. I would gladly give more than my 10% if I knew my church was truly helping those who need it. I give my money to places and people who I know need it. I’ll stuff it in an envelope and put it in their mailbox and they never know where it comes from. If more people did this, we’d have a better world. Follow your heart and do what you think is right. I believe we owe God everything we have. All we have belongs to Him and because I know this and feel this way, is why I do what I think He would do if He was on earth. Charity does begin at home. I don’t feel right giving 10% to my church when family members are naked or hungry…or friends and acquaintances for that matter.

  16. John says:

    I have been suffering this internal battle along with others for a while now. I give what I can based on my expenses and bills and feeding my family , and most times it isn’t even close to 10% I am constantly in prayer for guidance, and I still haven’t had an out loud response from God, though I do believe he speaks to me about some other issues I’m not being obedient with. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve been learning about obedience and hearing God’s voice.. and I have learned that if you truly seek him, he will reveal himself. In the end, God wants us to be broken of our own will so that we can live by his will. When you pray and ask for guidance on matters like this, you will either hear one of three internal voices. Make no mistake, it’s only one actual voice which is your internal mind voice like when you think things through and go back and forth inside your head and so on…. I’m not crazy hearing voices… lol. But the three voices I am talking about are just three thoughts that are distinctively different. There will be yourself saying, “Ok God, please tell me why I should do this, and what I should do” Then you’ll hear two responses. One will be a pro and the other a con. “You should do this because of this reason….” and “you should not do this because of this reason”. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean God is going to cover the con while your spiritual enemy will be the con. Sometimes it’s the other way around. But understand this… If it is God speaking, you will know because his words will stretch you. You’ll be so afraid, and resistant of what you’re being told, while your spiritual enemy is against you having a relationship or blessing from God… so what he’ll say whatever you want to hear to rationalize in your mind why you should or should not do something. For example… “God, should I tithe on my gross or net income?” Response #1 “Well, the tithe is the first 10th of your harvest right? Have there not always been taxes in the land?” “The tithe isn’t about my needing your money..it’s about your willingness to give back to me what I have given to you”. response #2 “you don’t actually earn your tax money, and you have to pay your medical and social security, and then after that, you have rent, and car payments, and ooooh the monthly electric is due this week and what are you gonna eat?” So you go to write your check and you want to write that larger amount down but you start to sweat and shake and your heart races… and you end up writing a smaller check or give nothing at all, and then you feel crappy all week and say, “next week I’ll give more”. So let me ask a question here. When it comes to doing anything we know we are to submit to God’s will and his will alone because we know he wants good things for us. Do you think God would intentionally put us in a position to go without if there was not a plan in place? Do you think he who knows and controls everything would say to you, “Give this amount…” and then after the fact, say, “Oh crap..I guess you’re screwed for the week on food… my bad” If you get two responses on that internal question, just ask yourself, would Satan, my spiritual enemy, and the father of lies ever tell me it was OK to give more money to God and not to worry because we serve a sovereign God?

  17. Stay Free says:

    Okay, so here goes. I think tithing is a symbolic gesture that you show to say, “Hi God, John Doe here. You are the owner of all that I have and all that I am. It’s really hard for me to give this 10% to you, and I am sorry that I can’t give more. Please change my heart that I may be more generous towards the people who are in need. Please take this measly 10% of a broken, and wretched, and greedy man’s income as a symbol of your rule over my life, including my money. Whether it be 10% of my gross or my net, I am having a hard time letting this 10% go, but here goes anyways, for the purposes of your kingdom and for this church I serve.” There you have it; my humble take on this sensitive issue of money and the heart.

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