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Should Giving Be Based on Gross or Net Income?
The following was written by Jim Wise, Senior Partner, Director of Ministry Services, and Senior Private Wealth Advisor for Ronald Blue Trust’s branch office in Orlando, Florida.
A common question asked by many Christians with regard to giving is whether our “tithe” – or percentage giving – should be based on gross (before taxes) or net (after taxes) income. Most of us receive our paychecks with the taxes already taken out. Once we’ve committed to giving a percentage of our income, should we base that percentage on pre-tax or after-tax income? The question is sometimes stated in this way: “Does God expect me to give away a percent of income I never actually receive?”
In the Bible, a word commonly used to describe the tithe is “first-fruits” (Exodus 23:16-17, 19; Deuteronomy 26:10; Proverbs 3:9-10; Leviticus 23:10), which refers the first and best part of that which God has provided for us. Income taxes, though we are certainly commanded in Scripture to pay them, simply represent a normal monthly outflow. Chronologically, giving should always come first… before savings, before taxes, and before our monthly living expenses.
When we give generously, we are acknowledging God’s ownership of all things and His faithful provision of all that we need. We are obediently and joyfully returning a small portion of what God has entrusted to us, and these funds are used to advance His kingdom and fulfill the Great Commission. One of the most gratifying things we can do with the income God provides is share a portion to help meet needs and advance the cause of Christ throughout the world.
The Bible teaches that whether we’re tithing on grain, flocks, or financial resources, the first and best portion is reserved for the Lord. If we were to give based on our after-tax income, we would actually be placing the government above God in that the first part of our income would be given to pay taxes, with God receiving His portion from the leftovers. By tithing on our gross income, God receives the first-fruits, and that is the portion that He has called us to return. Our loving Father doesn't just call us to be generous… He also graciously provides the income we need to obey.
Please contact your Ronald Blue Trust advisor if you have questions about giving or wish to adjust your giving amount. If you do not already have a Ronald Blue Trust advisor, please call 800.987.2987 or email
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This content has been updated since its original posting on May 11, 2015.
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