Tithing Before or After Taxes: How To Tithe Correctly

Ever wondered about tithing and how it fits into your financial life? Well, you’re in the right place. It’s a common question that many people have pondered. Tithing is a meaningful practice for many, and getting it right feels important.

The common notion is to give 10% of your earnings, but is that before taxes (gross income) or after taxes (net income)? Well… The answer isn’t cut and dry, it depends on you and your beliefs.

Cartoon woman searching on computer. "Do you tithe before or after taxes?"

To help you decide for yourself, I’ve broken down the options and different viewpoints so you can make an informed decision.

What Is Tithing?

Tithing is a religious practice that involves giving a portion of one’s income or resources, typically around 10%, to a religious institution, often a church or a religious community. The term “tithe” comes from the Old English word “teogoþa,” which means “tenth.”

Tithing has its roots in various religious traditions, but I’m most familiar with it from Judaism and Christianity. In these contexts, tithing is a way to worship, be obedient, and financially support your religious community. It’s based on passages from religious texts like the Bible.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” – Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV)

The Bible passage Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV) on a background of a sunset over the sea

In Judaism, tithing was originally associated with agricultural products and livestock. The Torah, the central reference of the religious laws in Judaism, outlined various tithes to support the Levites (religious leaders), the poor, and the Temple.

In Christianity, tithing is often seen as a way to support the church’s mission, operations, and various charitable activities. Some Christian denominations encourage members to tithe based on their income, while others focus on the concept of cheerful and sacrificial giving.

How Much To Tithe

From what I’ve seen, the amount to tithe can vary based on religious beliefs, cultural practices, and personal circumstances. Traditionally, tithing involves giving a tenth (10%) of one’s income or resources. However, this percentage is not set in stone and can be interpreted differently by different religious groups and individuals.

Here are some different ways to tithe:

Text on sky background: How much to 
tithe: 10% Tithing, Proportional Giving, Free Will Giving, Offerings
  • 10% Tithing: Many religious traditions, particularly in Christianity, teach the principle of tithing as giving 10% of one’s income. This means if you earn $1000, you would give $100 as your tithe.
  • Proportional Giving: Some individuals and religious groups practice proportional giving, where the percentage given might be less than 10%, but it is consistent with their financial ability. For instance, someone might choose to give 5% or 7% of their income.
  • Free Will Giving: Certain religious communities emphasize the concept of free will giving, where individuals give as they feel led by their beliefs, without a fixed percentage requirement. This approach allows for more flexibility based on individual circumstances.
  • Offerings: In addition to tithing, many people give offerings or make additional charitable contributions beyond the tithe. Offerings are often seen as gifts given with a grateful heart to support specific needs, projects, or causes.

Bible Verses About Tithing 10 Percent

It seems like the obligation to give ten percent in tithe depends on whether you follow the Old Testament, New Testament, or both. From my research, you can only find Bible verses to support the act of tithing in the Old Testament books of Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Amos, and Malachi.

Here are a few examples:

“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30-32 (NIV)

“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.” – Deuteronomy 14:22 (NIV)

“A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury.” – Nehemiah 10:38 (NIV)

Tithing In The New Testament

On the other hand, the New Testament does not speak specifically about how much to give, but rather to give generously from the heart.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV)

Biblical stories, such as that of Ananias and Sapphira warn against selfishness and encourage generosity.

In Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18, a man comes up to Jesus and asks “what good thing must [he] do to get eternal life.” In response, he is told to keep the commandments of not committing murder, adultery, stealing, giving false testimony, and to honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.

In order to be perfect, he should “sell [his] possessions and give to the poor, and [he] will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow [Jesus].” To this, the man went away sadly, and Jesus said to his disciples:

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:23-24 (NIV)

From this and other passages, I interpret that those who follow the New Testament way of giving should do so generously from what they are able to, whether that is less than or even more than 10%.

Do You Tithe Before Or After Taxes?

Back to the main question: Should you pay tithes on gross or net income?

Text on sunset background: "Do You Tithe Before Taxes Or After Taxes?"

Tithing Before Taxes (Gross Income):

Some argue that tithing should be based on your gross income, which is the amount you make before any deductions like taxes or retirement contributions.

Support of this can be interpreted from parts of the Bible such as the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was favored by God for bringing offerings of fat portions from the firstborn of his flock.

In other passages, it is said:

“Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.” – Exodus 23:19 (NIV)

Giving the first and best portion of your blessings is found throughout the Bible in the Old and New Testaments.

Tithing After Taxes (Net Income):

On the other hand, some believe that tithing on your net income, the amount you take home after deductions is a more practical approach.

To this, the Bible says:

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” – 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NIV)

This perspective takes into account your real, usable income—the money you have available for living expenses, bills, and other financial responsibilities. It can help to avoid financial strain and be able to afford essential needs.

At the end of the day, I believe that it is a personal decision that should be made with the intention behind your giving in mind. Some religious beliefs have clear guidelines regarding the amount and how to tithe correctly. Otherwise, you should give what’s in your heart with generosity and without selfishness.

How To Calculate Tithe From Salary

If you are giving a percentage of your income, here’s how to determine that amount:

  1. Determine Your Gross (or Net) Income: Start by identifying your income. You can typically find these amounts on your pay stub.
  2. Calculate 10%: To calculate 10% of your income, you can multiply that amount by 0.10 (which is the decimal equivalent of 10%).
    Example: If your gross income is $4,700, your tithe would be 10% of $4,700, which is $470 (4,700 * 0.10 = 470).
  3. Tithe Amount: The calculated amount is the tithe you would give based on the traditional 10% guideline.

If you choose to give a different percentage based on your means, you can change the 10% to that number in your calculations. Integrating tithing into your budget can be a meaningful way to align your financial goals with your spiritual values.

When budgeting, consider tithing as an essential expense rather than an afterthought. Allocate the tithe as a fixed percentage of your income, and build your budget around it. Just as you plan for bills and necessities, prioritize your tithe as a reflection of your faith commitment.

Summary

Ultimately, I believe tithing should ideally be a joyful and meaningful act of worship, rather than a burdensome obligation. Some individuals and religious communities may interpret tithing more strictly, while others may emphasize the principle of giving from a generous heart according to one’s means.

If you’re part of a religious community, it’s a good idea to consult with your spiritual leaders or community guidelines to understand the expectations regarding tithing. Ultimately, the decision of how much to tithe should be a personal one, made in accordance with your beliefs and financial situation.

2 thoughts on “Tithing Before or After Taxes: How To Tithe Correctly”

  1. Thank you for speaking about the way tything is explained in the New Testament. This was also my personal belief. I was a member of a church and tythed what I could cheerfully and gratefully. Until my pastor started repeatedly implying that I was not giving enough that God was not deceived and that He was displeased with me. It hurt me a great deal. I have not been able to go back to church (any church) since then. I now have the belief I can’t attend church because I can’t afford to pay for it. I am writing this not to expose the pastor but to help those who were treated this way and have been traumatized because of it. And let’s face it, going through something that changes your behavior and beliefs in such a radical fashion is trauma

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear about the negative experience you had with tithing at your previous church. Your feelings are valid, and it’s unfortunate that it led to trauma. If you ever decide to explore a church community again, I hope you find a place that embraces understanding, empathy, and a supportive environment.

      Wishing you strength and healing on your journey,
      -Martina

      Reply

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