If you are like many American Christians, you might be receiving a nice sum this year after filing your federal income tax.
But this chunk of change might have you wondering, “Should I tithe on my tax refund?”
There are a few things to consider when answering this question.
In this post, we are going to adhere to the basic Old Testament principal of tithing 10 percent on all income you receive.
At the end of the post, we will discuss other options for tithing for the New Testament church.
Did you tithe off your gross of net income?
Gross income means the money you make before deductions. Net income means the actual amount that went into your pocket.
If you tithed off your net income, you need to tithe on your tax refund.
If you tithed off your gross income, then you don’t need to tithe on the part of the refund that you got back from the income you made.
But there are a few other things you should consider if you have tithe already on your gross income before you write off tithing on other parts of your tax refund.
Other Refunds Not Associated with Income
In our current tax system, there are many situations that we can claim that will increase our tax refund that aren’t associated with our yearly income.
There are many different rebates one can receive including rebates from purchasing energy-efficient cars, earned-income credit or child-tax credit.
Rebates are negotiable depending on how one views that purchase. If one views the rebate money as money that was theirs and “held” for a period of time, they wouldn’t want to tithe off it. Some people might view that money as “new” money and would therefore tithe on it.
Other government benefits might also be considered when tithing off your tax refund.
Many people receive government assistance throughout the year that doesn’t come as direct income (aka food stamps).
Obviously if you are receiving federal aid or disability, you might not be in a position to tithe off these benefits, but you might want to consider giving something extra in order to say “Thank you, God” for allowing you to be in a country that assists you in your poverty.
These are personal decisions that need to be met out with prayer and wise counsel. There is no right or wrong answer necessarily. Just you and your precious Savior working out your salvation with fear and trembling according to the Word of God.
The difference between tithing, Giving and alms
There are three types of biblical giving. (Source: Living on a Dime)
Tithing is based on income.
You make $100, you tithe $10. This is to be given to the Levite and the temple.
In our modern day, we’d interpret this as “church.”
The definition of “church” might differ among people. Some might take this as the church building. Some might not attend a traditional church.
Those who are incapacitated might watch a number of sermons on television and decide to tithe to one or all ministries.
My personal interpretation of this would be to tithe based on income to the place that feeds your spiritually on a regular basis, whether that be a podcast, a building or any other ministry.
Giving is something that is done over and above your regular tithe.
I would consider giving to be those moments when you “just feel led” to give someone something that normally you wouldn’t give
For example, a speaker comes to your church and delivers a profound message. I think this falls under the category of “extra” giving. Some might argue this is tithe, that’s fine. This is my personal belief.
If you are praying and the Lord places a family on your heart and you give them extra money, this is giving.
Alms are considered to be the monetary or donations given to those in need.
Supporting a child via Compassion International would be a great organization to give your alms to. They feed, educate and spiritual facilitate the upbringing of impoverished children worldwide.
This would also include canned donations to your local food pantry or money you give to someone on the side of the road.
What about Tithing our Time & Talent
Many times people don’t earn income.
And personally I know there are some seasons where tithing is desirable, but despite all attempts just doesn’t happen for some reason or another.
I’m not saying “taking a break” from tithing is biblical, but sometimes real life just gets in the way of what we ought to do.
Whatever the situation, giving your time via volunteering or doing things for free that you would normally take income from can be a form of tithe.
As a website developer, there are many times I’ve “tithed” website building or graphic design to ministries that don’t have the money to pay me.
These are instances where money doesn’t exchange hands, but would have under a normal circumstances.
New Testament vs. Old Testament Tithing
Jesus said that “not one jot or tittle” would be erased from God’s words/laws. This includes the 10 percent rule of tithing. But Jesus came to fulfill or “out do” the current Old Testament way of living which was kind of a “bare minimal” way of living.
People tithed their 10 percent, no more, no less.
But Jesus wants everything.
He wants death to our flesh and our control.
Theoretically, we should tithe out of the abundance of our hearts, not out of obligation.
People can misuse this to mean that we should tithe what we feel like it. It is true that we should tithe out of happy heart. It is true that God delights in a cheerful giver, but yet the Old Testament, which is still the viable Word of God, says that we shouldn’t rob God.
Ten percent is the start of tithing, not the end.
Recognizing Tithing as a Heart Issue
The debate about when and how much to tithe can be a heated one.
In fact, there might be something in this article that you don’t agree with.
Whether you disagree with my words, or the theories of someone else you know – tithing can be a hot topic.
This proves that our desire to obey God and his commands and our desire to give/keep our money reveal the motives of our heart.
Honestly, God doesn’t need my money or yours.
But He knows that where you store your treasure, your hearts lives.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
We must do our best to tithe given the wisdom we have.
We need to stop thinking of tithing on our tax refund as wrong or right, but rather think of all our tithing as an opportunity to draw closer to Jesus.
What is a Tax Rebate? – TurboTax
Dave’s Advice on Tithing and Giving – Dave Ramsey
Tithing on Taxes – Tithing.com
Should a Christian Tithe on Miscellaneous Income? – GotQuestions.org
Should I Tithe Off my Income Tax Return? – Personal Finance Journey
Is It Stealing From God to Split Your Tithe Between the Church and Other Charities? – ChristianityToday.com
Tithe Question – Living on a Dime
Head covering Christian woman who loves good wine, coffee, stinky cheese and missionary books. My favorite dessert is Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. I am a Christian author, blogger, and speaker. I fell in love with my husband because he had rain drops on his glasses (true story). In my spare time I homeschool my six children (5 girls, 2 boys).