Every once in a while, I am either asked this question, or it comes up in a discussion:
Should I tithe off my income tax refund?
The purpose of this post isn’t to discuss the validity of the tithe today. It is directed towards those who practice the act of tithing. I’ve included a brief history and definition of the tithe, but an in depth study is beyond the scope of this writing. I will provide more information on this topic in the future!
What is a tithe?
Tithe simply means “a tenth”. In the Bible the Hebrew word was ma ‘aser, and in the New Testament the Greek was apodekato.
Strong’s Concordance gives the following definitions:
- to give, pay a tithe of anything
- to exact receive a tenth from anyone
- tenth part
- payment of a tenth part
Tithing in the Bible:
The first mention of tithing in the Bible is in Genesis 14:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “ Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
The law of first mention states that the first mention or occurrence of a subject in Scripture establishes a pattern, with that subject remaining unchanged in the mind of God throughout Scripture.
It is also interesting to note that tithing was established before the law. Therefore, it can be inferred that it did not end with the law.
“You shall truly tithe all the increase…” – Deuteronomy14:22
“Then the LORD said to Aaron: ‘You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel. Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.'” – Numbers 18:20-21
What “increase” in included in the tithe:
The Bible says to tithe off your increase. The definition of increase according to Strong’s is “revenue”. Taking it a step further, the definition of “revenue” is the top line figure before deductions are made…in other word “gross income”.
Based upon my research, I believe the best model is to tithe off your gross income throughout the year. Therefore, when you receive a tax return this is money you’ve already tithed from and it would not be necessary to tithe again (however, that doesn’t mean you can not…or give a freewill offering).
That being said, there are many that faithfully tithe off their net income. I believe the Lord honors that as well! In this case, you should tithe with your returns because you would not have done so yet.
According to the definition of tithe, increase, and revenue I believe the best model is to tithe off the gross. This would make a tithe off any income tax return redundant. However, if you choose to tithe from your net income, you should tithe off your income tax return as well. Whatever model you choose, remember that giving is an act of worship, so honor God with your giving.
God loves a cheerful giver!
Here are some other great posts about tithing: