Hey IRS, Jesus Is My ‘Third Party Designee' | Sojourners

Hey IRS, Jesus Is My ‘Third Party Designee'

IRS Tax Form 1040. Via Alamy. 

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On the IRS Form 1040, there is a section titled “Third Party Designee” which asks, “Do you want to allow another person to discuss this return with the IRS?” When filling out my 1040 for 2021, I simply wrote, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.” This is what people mean when they say, “let go and let God,” right?

Kidding aside — April 15, is traditionally Tax Day in the United States. (Though April 18 is the day we will “celebrate” in 2022.) This year, the day we pay Caesar and the day we remember Caesar making Jesus pay, coincide. In the Christian tradition, Good Friday is usually understood as the day we remember Jesus paying the ultimate price for our “sin.” But as Amar Peterman notes, there is an overemphasis on Jesus “paying for our sins” and an underemphasis on examining the systems and structures which put Christ on the cross to begin with.

When it comes to interrogating why Christ was crucified, Christians fall back on amorphous language and truisms: “Christ died so that I might live,” “Christ was punished for my sin,” or “My sin nailed Jesus to the cross,” et al. Nebulous language and cute clichés won’t cut it when filling out tax forms, so why should we let it slide when it comes to the most important event in human history?

I think we can't bring ourselves as Christians to explicitly acknowledge that we’ve sidled up to the same forces which conspired to crucify Christ. Money, tax breaks for the rich, and celebrity culture all contribute to the continued crucifixion of marginalized people, but that’s not stopping pastors and churches from attempting to convince themselves otherwise.

So, on this Good Friday, amid tax season, we begrudgingly render unto Caesar the resources needed to perpetuate the empire. When I think of it in those terms, it seems right to say that each of us plays a part in nailing Christ and other “crucified people” to the cross.

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