Magazine article The Christian Century

The IRS and Me

Magazine article The Christian Century

The IRS and Me

Article excerpt

The internal Revenue Service does not spend a lot of time thinking about the ministry. I do not spend a lot of time thinking about money. Yet, under threat of fines and imprisonment, I am annually coerced into reconciling money and ministry into a 1040 Form and submitting the result to the IRS, which is at least as ignorant about one half of the equation as I am about the other.

On the front page of the 1040 Form I write "minister" in the box that asks for my occupation. That is the only box I fill in with any confidence of knowing what I am talking about. The remaining several pages of information are about money where, presumably, they know what I am talking about. It seems to me I am operating at a mystification deficit in my partnership with the IRS.

I think that I do not believe in money. Evidence of money exists; respected schools teach bright young minds about money; and money has vocal advocates. But those things could also be said of God, and lots of people do not believe in God.

God makes at least as much sense as money does.

When I informed the IRS computer that my occupation was "minister" here is what I meant: I tell people God loves them. They give me money and don't believe me.

Today my wife was going to the mall, where they would be interested in the money that this congregation has given me. Not being sure why we had it in the first place, we didn't mind seeing it go to that testament to commerce.

My wife returned with a socket wrench, three ribbons from the fabric store and a box of Do-Si-Dos that a Girl Scout had sold to her. …

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