One of the most common expressions heard during budget and tax discussions is the importance of making sure “the rich pay their fair share,” the premise being that they are not yet doing so and therefore need to be made to pay more. But this immediately raises two related questions.
First, “Is there any other group of people who also needs to pay their fair share but isn’t?” The premise of some people owing their share implies that other people have a “share” to owe as well. And second, “At what point would we say the rich are being made to pay more than their fair share?” Paying too little and paying too much are both unfair.
Interestingly, although the Bible clearly says prosperous people have a duty to the community, it also puts a precise limit on that obligation: the tithe. This means that a man with five times more cattle and land than his neighbor would wind up paying five times as much in tithe tax. In Israel, charging him six times as much would have been unfair, as would have been charging his neighbor nothing. And if a flat income tax like this was fair enough for God’s beloved Israel, why wouldn’t it be fair enough for us?