Written by Peter Blanch
In every budget speech, there are always changes proposed to taxation. Treasurers from both sides of parliament are constantly tinkering with our taxes. Our country needs money to run – lots of money for a population and land mass our size, and taxes are a means to get the money needed to effectively govern our nation and care for those within. And, no doubt, changes are needed, particularly when you see statistics like: 1/3 of the top 300 companies in Australia [those with a turnover of more than $200 million] paid no tax at all in 2013/14. This is not fair – companies that benefit from our peaceful, well-run society need to contribute to it’s continued wellbeing. But it is not just companies who are dodging tax. It seems like everyone is trying to minimise what they owe the government. How can the government run the country when we are unwilling to help provide the cash? Answer: increase taxes and clamp down on tax loopholes.
But changes in taxation, while trying to force us to contribute more, do not change our attitudes. The reality is that when we change tax laws, all we do is give the accountants more scope and opportunity to find new loopholes to help clients pay less tax. We might put a plug over one leak, but you will always find people discovering new ways to avoid paying taxes. Our laws, any laws, but especially tax laws, rely on peoples agreement with them. And so, setting tax laws where people are in fundamental disagreement (because they do not want to pay any taxes and therefore have no intention of keeping them) is to set laws that will always have significant failure rates.
Our politicians can’t change our attitudes – this is why they keep tinkering with taxation laws, attempting to solve problems by raising more money. But however much we tinker with taxes and tax law, we will not solve the heart of the problem. Because there is a problem with our hearts! It was one of our treasures from yesteryear, Paul Keating, who observed that tax laws only work when there is a will within the people to pay tax. And he was right.
What we really need is to change our hearts. For if you can change hearts so that people actually want to pay taxes, then you hardly need any tax laws at all. If people were genuinely changed in their hearts then all we would need to say to people is; “We are a community who has certain communal interests, and so we invite people to make contribution to a pool of money for those common interests. So please just send in your money, however much you think you can contribute, or should contribute, to the community fund.”
And if people were genuinely changed, then all the money we would ever need to run our government would flow in – because people would say — “Yes, I want roads; I want hospitals; I want schools and so I will send in 15-20% of my salary because these are obviously good things that our community needs.” With changed hearts some may even say, “I will send in bit more because I earn more than the people down the road. They can’t afford much, so I will send in extra.”
I wonder if you could ever imagine our state and federal governments running Australia’s finances that way! Could you ever see this as a realistic method of raising the funds needed? Or do you think this way of raising money is complete idealistic nonsense?
Of course it could never work.
But, while you might consider this way of raising money to be unrealistic, it actually works in our church. Our church is organised exactly on this basis. We have the “Red Toolbox” by the doorway, we have the Church’s bank account details on the outline, and we issue the invitation to everyone to make the contribution that they decide appropriate given the income that God has blessed them with. We all want to see the gospel grow and flourish here in Wagga and beyond, and so we encourage you contribute whatever you like to help that happen. And if you want contribute nothing – you contribute nothing; if you want to contribute 50% of your salary – you contribute 50% of your salary. We don’t know what you give – that is your business – it is between you and God. However, our church community is financed purely by the generosity of people who share what they have been given.
How could our church community be financed like that, except that people’s hearts have been radically changed? If you can’t imagine our society running this way, then it is indeed miraculous that our church can run this way!
Yes, God has done a miraculous work in our hearts. It is a real miracle to see people’s wallets converted as well as their hearts, because in our western society we only part with our money when we have been changed and touched by something we consider very important. It is God’s generosity to us in Jesus, and the realisation that we live in the last days before His return that prompts us to share what we have been given so that others might be saved.
Praise God that together our church family gives generously to meet our common needs: employing full time workers, funding mission work in Wagga and beyond, running all our different ministries, planning for future growth and capacity. And all this through nothing other than the generous freedom of hearts that want to give.
Praise God for his work in our hearts and thank him for his generous provision to each of us that enables us to share so freely.
As a church we are about $1600 per month short of the goal to employ a third worker to further our gospel work here in Wagga and beyond. I do not say this to coerce you into giving. I simply want to present the communal need to you and ask you to consider your generosity. The communal need is not just for the good of our church family, but also for our wider community which so desperately needs to hear the gospel. Having Tim Flint join us would increase our capacity to bring the gospel to bear on more and more of the lives of people in Wagga.