You don’t want to rob God, but you’re not sure how to handle your tax return.  What does the Bible say?

Proverbs 3:9–10 “Honour the LORD with thy substance, And with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

Dedicated Christians tithe. We tithe by returning 10% of our increase to the Lord through our local church. This is a straightforward calculation for your regular paycheck. As a pastor, I have been asked many times how to tithe off of a tax return. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Tithe off of Net Pay

If you have been tithing off of your net pay (this is the amount you receive with taxes removed), you have not tithed from all your income. Even though the government takes tax out before it gets to you, it is still part of your increase. You must tithe off of your entire tax refund.

Tithe off of Gross Pay

I recommend tithing off of your gross pay from each paycheck. This is the amount you are paid before taxes are taken out. Furthermore, I urge that you tithe off of your entire pay package. This includes benefits that your employer gives to you that are not included as money in your paycheck, but are an overall increase as they are paying for the benefits. Health insurance, 401k, paid vacation, travel allowance, etc. are all benefits that should be tithed. I realize that this may dramatically change your giving calculation. It is worth it to honor the Lord in all your increase. Don’t rob God. It’s not worth it.

Malachi 3:8–11
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, Even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be meat in mine house, And prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, If I will not open you the windows of heaven, And pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, And he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; Neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.”

If you have been tithing from your gross pay, you have tithed off of the tax money removed from your check. This means that the funds returned by the government have been tithed off of already. However, your tax return usually includes tax credits or subsidies that are new income. You must tithe off any new revenue that is part of your tax return to obey the Lord. This math should be done for you in the summary section of your return.

If are a business owner that owes taxes each year, make sure you look for any tax breaks that the government may be giving you. If these are a new increase, they should be tithed.

What’s the Big Deal?

I realize that some may scoff at the technicalities of these thoughts. Many people work harder to get out of their responsibilities to God than they do in obeying Him. Others believe that tithing is not required for the Christian. I disagree. While the New Testament emphasizes grace giving, the lowest acceptable amount of giving is still the tithe. From the way giving is addressed in the New Testament, it seems that our Lord expects the sacrifice of Christ will motivate us to give more than the tithe. Is that true in your life? Calculate your budget around your tithe.  It is more blessed to give than receive!

It is critical to tithe accurately. The only way we can do that effectively is to pay attention to the details. In addition, tithing properly:

  • honors the Lord.
  • makes us more aware of how God is taking care of us.
  • humbles us as we acknowledge our needs met by Him.
  • is an act of faith demonstrating that we believe God will bless
  • our obedience.
  • is worship in action.

My Recommendations

  1. Tithe on your gross income with each paycheck.
  2. Calculate the increase in your employment benefits package.
  3. Divide this amount by your pay periods and add it to your regular tithe.
  4. Add offerings as the Lord directs.
  5. Give at least 10% of your tax return back to God.

Even though it is more than what is “required,” I have followed these tips for years. My family has never lacked food, clothing, and shelter. You can’t outgive God! He always blesses a generous heart.

Many Christians don’t give extra during the year. They struggle to give a standard tithe and offering while living paycheck to paycheck. Why not take advantage of the “extra” money that comes in during tax season to give a little more? I realize that you have other needs. We all do. Don’t forget that sacrificial giving pleases the Lord.

I pray this answers some questions for you.

Do you have any questions or thoughts to add? Leave them in the comments.