Thank you for asking whether you should tithe on the Economic Impact Payments to American households provided by the recently approved CARES Act of 2020. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, these Economic Impact Payments are to ensure that Americans receive fast and direct relief in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. They are characterizing these payments as “assistance to workers and their families.”
A tithe is 10 percent, and the Church upholds the biblical teaching that tithing is a command instituted by God for doing His work and caring for His Church.
Deuteronomy 14:22 Deuteronomy 14:22You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year.
American King James Version×teaches, “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year” (emphasis added). Based on this clear and direct biblical guideline, we see that we should calculate our tithe based on our “increase.” Increase is determined by any profit or earning we receive after we have subtracted the cost of doing business or the cost of investing in any work or investment activity.
This particular payment is being given equally to all Americans regardless of whether they are working or unemployed, and it is not tied to their level of income. Thus, it should be considered either assistance or a free gift, and therefore you need not pay tithe on it. It is not necessary to give a tithe on a gift or any form of gratuity for which you do not perform some type of service. However, it would be appropriate to show thanks to God by giving an offering for having been blessed with a substantial gift.
All tithing mentioned in the Bible had to do with what an individual labored for—the increase from gleaning grapes (and producing wine), olives, barley, wheat and the like, to harvesting fruit from orchards, to the increase from year to year from cattle, sheep, goats, etc. We find no specific command given to the children of Israel, or to the Church, to pay tithes on gifts.
For those families who have been impacted by this health crisis by having reduced work hours or losing their employment, this assistance will be vital to helping them to keep their homes and to pay their bills, and should be accepted and spent for that purpose.
For families who have not been economically impacted, but are still receiving this Economic Impact Payment, a thank offering could and perhaps should be considered. But such an offering and the amount given is totally up to the recipient of the gift.