CD 256 on taxes and the TV licence

Since our taxes are used to fund abortion, contraception, and other moral evils, is it a sin to pay income tax?

Our Lord himself arranged for St Peter to pay the tax to Caesar. He provided the means by a miracle, but the tax was, in fact, paid. Similarly, St Paul told the Romans to be subject to the governing authorities, and to pay their taxes. (Rom 13.7) This teaching was accepted by the early Christians and is reflected in the Fathers of the Church. Bear in mind that government of the Roman empire included many unjust and cruel practices, as well as keeping law and order, and contributing to the good of the citizens.

We are in an analogous situation today. The rule of law, the enforcement of contracts, the provision of public services, and the defence of our liberty all rely upon their being a government which has the means to provide these things. We may disagree with a particular government and some of its policies and laws, but the example of Our Lord, St Paul and the early Christians teaches us that we have our own Christian duty to contribute to those services which are necessary for society to operate. Since we are compelled to contribute unwillingly to the bad things that a Government might do, we should campaign against such misuse of taxes and, where possible, vote accordingly.

Another example may help to make things clear. We might choose not to pay the Television Licence because we consider that the broadcast media are a bad influence on our society, our children, and ourselves. In this case we can keep within the law by not having a television, or by ensuring that we do not watch programmes as they are broadcast. We can suffer this deprivation without inconvenience. In the case of income tax, we are not able to opt out of having law and order, a police force, a judiciary, or the enforcement of contracts, and therefore we are obliged to pay the taxes necessary to fund these and other services, even though we may also be contributing unwillingly to some evils.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
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