To understandhow we can apply Biblical principles to the field of taxation we must firstunderstand what taxation is and the purpose it serves. Chet’la Sebree helpsanswers this question in her book UnderstandingTaxation. In its simplest form, a government determinesthe way in which a country, state, county, town, city, or village is run. Atevery level of government, laws are created that citizens must obey. Policiesare put in place for just about everything connected with our daily lives. Acommunity needs an organized way to function, and a government provides thatframework. The US government provides public goods and services for thecitizens of the country as a whole. But since the government doesnt generateany income of its own, it needs a way to pay its bills. The money that the USgovernment uses to pay these bills comes mostly from taxes. (Sebree, 2019,p.12-13). There are various types of taxes that exist, all of which are fed tothe government to fund at their discretion.
Those who oversee these funds are electedofficials chosen by us, the people. Romans 13:1-2 teachesus to be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authorityexcept that which God has established. The authorities that exist have beenestablished by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority isrebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bringjudgment on themselves. So, regardless of our opinion on items administered byour governing authority, the Lord calls us to be respectful and adhere. Paulfurther writes about taxes specifically a few lines later in Romans 13:6-8. For theauthorities are Gods servants, who give their full time to governing. Give toeveryone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, thenrevenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (New InternationalVersion, 2011)
As followers of Christ, we are to be obedient ofthe laws set forth by the Lord. We may not always understand them, but that isbecause we cannot always see what He does. Paying our taxes is one way that wecan honor the word of God and his command.
A TaxPractitioner is held to a higher standard when it comes to taxpreparation. The practitioner should have an up-to-date understanding ofthe requirements set forth by the taxing authority. The AICPA has issuedguidance regarding the enforceable tax standards in the Statements on Standardsfor Tax Services. Tax practitioners should absolutely have a workingknowledge of these statutes, rules, and guidelines because (1) they establishthe professional standards for the practitioner and (2) failure to comply withthe standards could result in adverse consequences for the tax professional,such as being admonished, suspended, or barred from practicing before the IRS;being admonished, suspended, or expelled from the AICPA; or sufferingsuspension or revocation of the CPA license. (Spiker, 2022, p 2-23) There willcome a time that the tax preparer will have a difference in opinion with theirclient on which transactions and how these transactions should be treated on atax return, if at all. Facing these dilemmas will certainly be an uncomfortableinteraction between the tax preparer and the client. The situation at handdepends on how I would respond. First and foremost, I would not bend in mymorals, and I would not participate in any unethical behavior. If thedifference of opinion is something as simple as whether the client should usethe basic standard deduction or itemize transactions the resolution could bequick. If the client is persistent in itemizing their deductions, even thoughthey do not exceed the standard deductions, I would explain to the client thatit is better for them not to itemize their deductions and to take the standarddeductions. The difference of opinion may be rectified by simply explaining thebasics of tax returns and possibly even preparing the returns both ways to showthe client the benefit of preparing the return using the standarddeductions. However, if the difference of opinion is relating tosomething a little more involved such as creating fictitious deductions, myresponse would be entirely different. A tax professional should complywith the standards, if any, imposed by the applicable tax authority forrecommending a tax return position, or preparing or signing a tax return.(Spiker, 2022, p 2-23) In no way should a tax practitioner participate inunethical behavior such as this. It is not only unethical but taxfraud. I would explain to my client the consequences this decision couldhave if they were to follow through. In addition, I would explain myposition as to why I would refuse to add the deductions to the return. If theclient still wanted to proceed with the unethical behavior, I would politelyand respectfully decline to prepare their tax return. There may be times inyour accounting career where you are faced with such dilemmas as these. It isimportant to stand your ground, stand in faith, and do what is right. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anyexcellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(Philippians 4:8, ESV)
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