(This post has been updated to reflect the latest version, which was not saved properly before publishing.)

Take the deduction, every single one you can find.

Use tax-free and tax-deferred investment vehicles.

Opt-out of Social Security early and often, and take as much housing allowance as you can (for ordained ministers).

Keep your receipts for health-related expenses, written business mileage records, and anything else that proves deductions.

Hire a great accountant.

I’d give this exact advice to anyone looking to save some money on taxes.  Why is it so important?  Two reasons:

1) Paying less in taxes means more money in your pocket (duh).
2) Paying less in taxes is good stewardship.

I wrote a few thoughts on stewardship a short time ago, and I wanted to expand on the topic.  We’ll focus on number two above: Paying less in taxes is good stewardship.  

The reasoning behind the assertion is simple: I’m a better steward of my money than the government is.  When you know how to budget, when you’re managing your money well, when you know how to bless others, you’re simply a better steward than any government agency.

Ordained ministers have the opportunity to opt-out of Social Security, but they have to do it on religious grounds.  Do it.  I’ve got religious grounds for miles.  My Bible tells me to manage well what I’ve been given (Matthew 25:14-30).  When I send money to the government, they spend $379 million for a website, $300k to study the origins of the first bird on earth, $4.1 million for a lavish IRS conference, $3 million for NASA (yeah the space agency) to study how Congress works.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The bottom line is, I can do more good with my money for myself and others than throwing it down the black hole of government recklessness.  We are called to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:15-22).  No problems with that, but that doesn’t mean I have to pay more in taxes than necessary.

YOU be the best manager of your money that you can, and hang onto as much as possible.