Today is tax day, the day we render unto “Caesar” what is his. The quote by Jesus that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s is by far the most popular quote about paying taxes. But, did Jesus actually pay taxes?
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:21
There are two events in the Bible regarding Jesus and taxes. The first occurs when the tax collectors from the temple came to Peter to see if Jesus was going to pay the temple tax. It seems that Jesus did not agree with the policy of collecting temple taxes, however, He was willing to submit and pay His due. In this instance the money with which to pay the tax was miraculously provided from a fish.
24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”
25 He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”
26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.
27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
– Matthew 17:24-27 NKJV
Perhaps some of the Pharisees heard about Jesus attitude about temple tax, and it prompted this second account regarding Jesus and taxes. In this case the question is about paying taxes to the Roman government.
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.
16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.
17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius.
20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
– Matthew 22:15-21NKJV
So did Jesus pay taxes? It seems pretty clear from the Bible that he did.
More About Taxes in the Bible
So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel. – Samuel 17:25 NKJV
Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered. – Ezra 6:8 NKJV
There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle. – Daniel 11:20 NKJV
Therefore, because you tread down the poor And take grain taxes from him, Though you have built houses of hewn stone, Yet you shall not dwell in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, But you shall not drink wine from them. – Amos 5:11 NKJV
When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” – Mark 12:14 NKJV