One of the fundamental concepts of libertarianism is that taxation is theft, and therefore morally wrong. Yet God ordered the collection of a temple tax; if taxation is wrong, why would he do this?
Let’s look at Exodus 30:13-15:
This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
A shekel was a unit of weight. Its value is difficult to determine, but most estimates fall between 7 and 14 grams. When used as money, a shekel was a silver coin of that weight. At the most, then, a half-shekel would have been about 7 grams of silver, which today would be worth a little less than $8.00. Even if this was a full day’s wages, this tax amounts to a low rate by modern American standards.
But even that isn’t the issue. The question is whether — and why — God would have the right to impose any forced payment on anyone.
When the government comes to you and forces you at gunpoint to give it money, the underlying assumption is that it owns your productivity. Yet the Bible clearly holds that a worker’s wages are his property, not someone else’s:
Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.
The only way you could own what belongs to someone else is if you actually owned that person. So the government’s underlying justification for forcing the payment of taxes is that it owns you. But the government doesn’t own you; God does:
The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
If God owns you, he can justifiably demand your money. He can also dictate your behavior, and not just by limiting your infringements on other persons or their property, but frankly by dictating the moral content of your private behavior, what you do with your own body, and even your very thoughts (“thou shalt not covet”).
But when the government taxes you, it puts itself in the place of God as your owner. When it dictates your non-aggressive behavior, it sets itself up as your moral compass, which is God’s prerogative alone.
Now, in Matthew 17, Jesus himself cited prudential reasons for paying taxes you don’t really owe. I’m not saying don’t pay taxes.
I’m saying don’t impose them.