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God's Delivery State

Taxes, Tithes, and a Rightful Return in Urban Ghana

Anna-Riikka Kauppinen


Middle-class Christians in Ghana's capital Accra voice ambivalence about paying taxes: some claim that the government wastes their hard-earned money, while others consider taxes a Christian duty enshrined in the scripture. By contrast, most Christians in Accra esteem tithes to churches as contributions that yield infrastructural ‘development’ and divine favor. Drawing on the explicit comparisons that Ghanaian Christians make between the benefits of paying taxes vis-à-vis paying tithes, this article argues that taxes exist as part of a wider conceptual universe of monetary transfers. The efficacy of such transfers is evaluated in relation to what I call a ‘rightful return’. The unveiling of tithes as the counterpoint to taxes ultimately elicits an emergent Ghanaian conception of the public good between the state and God's Kingdom.