Pope Francis met with a delegation from Italy’s internal revenue service Monday, praising them for their work and holding up taxation as a necessary tool for redistribution.
Modern tax collectors are often looked upon with suspicion just as they were in the times of Jesus, the pontiff said, but they provide an essential service to the common good by redistributing wealth.
“A certain culture of suspicion can unfortunately extend to those who enforce the laws,” Francis said. “Yet this is a fundamental task, because legality protects everyone and is a guarantee of equality.”
“Laws make it possible to maintain a principle of fairness where the logic of interests generates inequalities,” he added. “Legality in the fiscal area is a way to balance social relations, removing forces from corruption, injustice, and inequality.”
“But this requires some education and cultural change,” the pope continued. “As is often said, people often see the tax system as a ‘reaching its hands into their pockets.’”
In reality, he declared, “taxation is a sign of legality and justice. It must promote the redistribution of wealth, protecting the dignity of the poor and the least, who always risk being crushed by the powerful.”
“Taxation, when it is right, is a function of the common good,” he asserted. “Let us work to increase the culture of the common good, so that the universal destination of goods is taken seriously.”
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