Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Tax Evasion

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

And Yosef imposed a twenty percent tax on the land of Egypt, which is still prevailing today... (Bereshith 47:26)

Yosef displayed both wisdom and sensitivity in the way he levied this tax. Before he declared it to be law, he explained to the residents of Egypt the uprightness of establishing such an obligation. In doing so he won the confidence of the people, and insured that they would not feel that their money was being taken unjustly. Only then did it become part of the country's legislation.1

As unpleasant as it may be to give over large percentages of one's earnings, the halachah gives the ruling powers, both on the municipal and national levels, the right to collect taxes. Since they have jurisdiction over the land, they have the right to ask for a reasonable compensation from the residents of the land. If the inhabitants do not pay, the government can force them to leave their land. Therefore, anyone who does not pay taxes has violated the Torah prohibition against theft.2

The above halachah is only applicable if the ruling power makes a set tax which has equal standards for every resident of that area. If they single out a certain individual and unfairly tax him disproportionately to the other inhabitants of the land, they are considered thieves, and according to Torah law one is not required to pay such taxes.3 Likewise, if those who presently have control of the state are not recognized by the residents of the land as the ruling authorities, they do not have a right to collect taxes from the inhabitants, and if they do so they are considered thieves.4

Nonetheless, whatever the circumstances may be, there is absolutely no room to sanction taking money from the government which is not rightfully yours.5 This could cause a desecration of God's name, one of the most serious transgressions. In addition, it may cause taxes to be raised, which would classify those who caused it as gozel eth harabim (having stolen from the public).6 This in effect means that they have stolen from every person in that area, an act for which it is nearly impossible to repent properly.


1. Seforno on Bereshith 47:26.

2. Bava Kama 113a; Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 369:6. See also Ran, Nedarim 28a.

3. Rambam, Yad HaChazaka, Gezel 5:14.

4. Ibid. 5:18; Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 369:2.

5. Responsa Shevet HaLevi 5:172.

6. Pithchei HaShulchan 1:4 (end).


Priceless Integrity, Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org.

Subscribe to Priceless Integrity and receive the class via e-mail.


 

ARTICLES ON KI SISA AND PURIM:

View Complete List

Holy Desecration
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5763

Oh No! Not DeNILE Again!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

From Rags to Riches
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

ArtScroll

You Have the Power
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Errant Deification
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

His Worst Nightmare Realized
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

> Triple Purim?
- 5768

Amalek - Blinded by Nature
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

The Hamantash - Food for Thought
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Fear of What?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Fulfill Your Potential
Shlomo Katz - 5764

You Can Do It!
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Cause of the Pause
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Behind the Purim Mask
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Tipping the Scales
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

A Major Player
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information