Evasion of tax eg. Income Tax is a punishable offence under the civil laws in many countries. But many Christians seldom get the feeling of having sinned if they have evaded tax.

I wish to know if any of the Ten Commandments directly relates to evasion of civil tax.

What do the teachings of Catholic Church tell its faithful about tax evasion?

  • "But many Christians seldom get the feeling of having sinned if they have evaded tax." All that shows is that many (all really) Christians are numb to their own sin.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 13:43
  • 1
    Is your question prompted by the controversial situation in Germany where persons who are baptised are required to pay a tax to the Government since the Government subsidises religious schools and religious day care facilities ? See link.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 10:00
  • Only one of the answers this question has actually mentions the 10 commandments. Would you like to remove that restriction on the question and just ask broadly what they see in the Bible about that issue?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 23:49

4 Answers 4


The Catholic Church, which does generally claim to follow the Bible, should follow the commands in the New Testament that specifically relate to tax evasion. Examples that weren't explicitly previously mentioned would be Romans 13:1-7 and Matthew 21:15-22.

Romans 13:1-7

1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

And Matthew 21:15-22

Matthew 21:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in ?accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.


As a personal note, I find it interesting that God specifically listed taxes as a reason Israel should not desire a king.

Samuel's Warning Against Kings

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8: 10-18)

But since your question was specifically about Catholicism you must go to the Catechism, which is the source material for Catholic teachings.

Catechism 2409

The following are also morally illicit: speculation in which one contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others; corruption in which one influences the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law; appropriation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enterprise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checks and invoices; excessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation.

That is according to the official Vatican web site.


Let's start with some purely secular definitions. Tax evasion is not paying tax that you are legally obliged to pay. Usually fraud, lying or deception is invovled. This would be something like saying your income is less than it is. It is illegal.

Tax avoidance is arranging your affairs in a legal way to reduce the amount of tax you pay. This would be something like setting up a limited company to handle your business affairs, arranging for some joint income to be in the name of your spouse etc. It's perfectly legal. (If it's not legal then it's evasion.)

Tax evasion almost always involves deception, which is essentially lying, and is usually covered by "Thou shalt not bear false witness". Also failing to pay someone money they are owed is usually considered stealing, covered by a different commandment.

I can't comment on why some Christians believe it is OK to evade tax. You may be confusing it with tax avoidance. Most Christian groups would teach that it is not OK to evade tax.

There are a small number of Christian groups who believe that tax is used for immoral purposes (such as promoting war through military spending) and would sanction refusal to pay on those grounds. A number of other small groups, mainly in the US, believe that governments have no God-given right to levy taxes.


Titus 3:1 states,

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates...

The Gospel expects us to be obedient to worldly law and this has been a long-held belief. (See Proverbs 24:21; Eccl 8:2, 10:20; Matt 22:21; Acts 23:5; 1 Tim 2:1-2; 1 Pet 2:13-14, 17.)

Knowing that we are expected to honor rulers and their laws, the applicable commandment is "Thou shalt not steal." However, it would be legitimate to claim "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" is the relevant commandment. Since God commanded that we obey worldly law and respect government, to fail to do so is to fail Him, putting some other god before Him.

  • 1
    This would benefit from some sources that confirm that this is how Catholics apply these texts. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 12:53

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