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Give Thanks for Tax Day

When I drop that envelope in the mail on April 15–or before, God willing–I give thanks. I am incredibly blessed to be living the country I live in, even with all its faults. I vote in every election and I pay my taxes.

Tax forms. Photo: Thinkstock

My dad always stayed up late on April 14 working on tax forms. I can see him sitting at his old roll-top desk, stacks of papers and receipts piled up next to him, a calculator ready to add the numbers.

“Night, Dad,” I said, as I headed off to bed. “That looks like a lot of work. You must hate having to do our taxes.”

He looked back at me and one would expect a gaze of harried impatience or complete exasperation. Well, yes, there was a furrow or two in his forehead–could he finish it all in time?–but then he said with utter sincerity, “Paying taxes is an opportunity we should all be grateful for.”

Grateful? It’s not a response you hear much. Give thanks for taxes? Thanking God for all those pieces of paper and the forms that need to be filled out with all the correct information? Rushing to the post office on April 15 to make sure it’s all postmarked on the right date? 

I suspect most of us dread having to file our taxes. I’ve given up trying to do it myself. If there’s anything I’m grateful for it’s our accountant who knows how to make heads and tails of 1099s and W-2s and Schedule C’s and whatever else he asks for.

But Dad believed April 15 was a time to give thanks, and maybe it was that very feeling that kept him at it late into the night, thanking God for what few of us think of thanking God for.

“When you pay your taxes you’re participating in what our country does,” he said. “And you have to give thanks that you’ve made enough to even have to pay taxes. I look back over the year and realize how fortunate we are.”

How fortunate we are. That’s the part I try to hold on to at tax time. I can see how much we earned and how much we spent. I can look at all our charitable deductions, how much we gave to our church and to causes we truly care about (quite frankly, it never seems enough).

Taking a note from Dad’s book, I try to think of April 15 as a day to count my blessings. Tax collectors were even more hated in Jesus’ day than they are in our time, and yet, Jesus befriended them. 

And when some of the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by showing him a coin with Caesar’s image on it and asking him whether it was lawful to pay taxes, he reminded them of what their real priorities should be: render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

So when I drop that envelope in the mail on April 15–or before, God willing–I give thanks. I am incredibly blessed to be living the country I live in, even with all its faults. I vote in every election and I pay my taxes.

I thank God for the chance. I am blessed. 

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