Taxation: Not Theft

At least not according to scripture:

'Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?'

'“Collect no more than you are authorized,” [John] answered.'

-- Luke, 3:13

Nowhere in scripture, that I'm aware of, does a prophet advise listeners to commit just an authorized amount of adultery, or worship false gods just so far as the state asks them to.


  1. I think Bob Murphy would probably interpret this line the same way he interprets the “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” line. He says that it means that if you owe something to Caesar then you should pay it to Caesar, which doesn’t imply that you actually owe something to Caesar. So in this case he’d probably say it means you should collect as much as it is morally justified to collect, which does not imply that there is any nonzero amount that is morally justified for you to collect.

    All of which I think is clearly a strained reading.

    1. That's definitely not what John says there: he says "Collect no more than is prescribed," i.e., the legal amount of the tax. He is telling tax collectors not to extort any additional funds from the taxpayers.

    2. And that if they do so then they can be baptized, ie meet the minimum moral requirements. There is no suggestion they abjure tax collection.


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