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When taxes get too high


Mark 12:17, Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

A recent article by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) provided a list of the top ten most taxed states in America, and they broke it down in an unusual way. They looked at the total amount of taxes a person paid in their lifetime.

According to FEE, you would be a millionaire if you lived in New Jersey and were able to keep all the taxes you paid over the course of your life, that amounted to $932,000 or about half a person’s lifetime earnings (49.51%).

This compared to the average amount of taxes, $525,037, paid by Americans in their lifetime. So by just moving to an average tax state an American family could potentially save over $400,000 in a lifetime.

But we need to understand the actual tax bite varied because the average wage also differed by state. Though some states paid less lifetime taxes, their average wage was also less turning it into a proportionally higher tax rates.

So based on percentages, here is the amount paid by the top ten highest tax states in the US:

  • New Jersey (49.5% of income paid in taxes)
  • Rhode Island (46.73%),
  • New Hampshire (45.99%),
  • California (44.98%),
  • Massachusetts (43.96%),
  • New York (43.8%),
  • Vermont (43.14%),
  • Illinois (42.87%),
  • Connecticut (42.79%) and
  • Washington DC (41.43%).
  • Click here for the remainder of the states.

But as the article in FEE noted, people are starting to move from high tax states such as New York and California to low tax states such as Florida and Texas where people pay 29.1% and 32.06% of their income in taxes respectively.

According to a recent article in the Daily Mail, for the first time in 171 years, California saw its population shrink losing 182,000 people. One of the reasons cited by many for leaving was high taxes, that will only be increasing as government spending rages out of control.

But it is not the only reason. People also cited the rising crime rates and decorating lifestyles. In other words, people are paying higher taxes and getting less in return.

However, this is not the first time we have seen an exodus of people because of higher taxes.

High taxes also played a major role in the Bible resulting in Israel breaking apart into two countries, Judah and Israel.

In the Bible taxes could be paid in one of three ways. You could pay it with money/gold and silver. You could also pay it with produce wine or grain, and you could also pay it with labour, actually working on government building projects.

In 1 Kings 9: 15-17, we read that King Solomon was involved in a number of construction projects including the new Temple, a new palace and dozens of other projects around the country.

But as we read this passage, we notice a reference to “forced labor which King Solomon levied” for these building projects. It was a levy, because as they did this, they still had to plant their crops and look after their livestock. It was a taxation of their time and labour.

Though King Solomon was involved in several building projects, what irritated people the most was King Solomon’s decision to construct a new palace after King David died.

King David already had a palace, but Solomon was not content to live in that one. He wanted a new one. And he needed a huge one because King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines to house compared to King David who only had eight.

To give you an idea of how big the palace was, it took Solomon seven years to build the temple, and 13 years to construct his palace (1 Kings 7:1-11).

And we know people were irritated because we catch King Solomon trying to justify the expenditure. In other words, King Solomon was in old-fashioned damage control as he explained why he needed a new palace:

11Then Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house which he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy where the ark of the Lord has entered.” (2 Chronicles 8:11)

King Solomon needed a massive palace to house a 1,000 wives and concubines, and to justify it, he blamed it on one woman, his marriage to the Pharaoh’s daughter.

It is pretty clear what happened.

After marrying the Pharaoh’s daughter, she wanted a room in the palace where she could worship her Egyptian gods (1 Kings 11:1-5), and King Solomon decided that would be an excellent reason to justify the construction of a new palace, since such a room would desecrate David’s palace that once housed the Ark of the Covenant.

By the end of King Solomon’s reign, people were fed up with the taxes and when Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, came to the throne people petitioned him to lower the taxes (1 Kings 12:3-5) which even Solomon’s advisors agreed was a good idea due to the rising discontent in the country.

However, when Rehoboam consulted with his buddies they said raise the taxes instead, which he did:

“‘Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions’” (v 11).

In the verse, we see the reference to whips that described the building supervisors who would whip people if they weren’t working hard enough as part of their forced tax labour. By saying he was going to whip the people with scorpions, it was a clear message that taxes were going higher.

Rehoboam’s refusal to lower the taxes, resulted in a rebellion led by Jehoram that divided the country into two (1 Kings 12:16-24).

Though Jesus told us to render under Cesar what is Cesar’s. We need government and there is a price for good government, but there is also a price that will be paid if government’s abuse their power to tax.

READ: Here Are the 10 States Where Residents Pay the Highest Lifetime Taxes AND Life of Tax: What Americans Will Pay in Taxes Over a Lifetime

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