“So. How do you make money? Or is it all under the table?”
Every time I hear this I feel a sort of anger that I imagine similar to Jesus’ when he overturned the tables in the temple.
“Under whose table?” I try and smile. “I’m doing nothing illegal.
There is a sort of stigma attached to working for cash only that people associate as black market work. This post really isn’t about the black market, but I do want to take a moment to discuss that. What is a black market? According to our most trusted wikipedia source:
“it is a… series of transactions that has some aspect of illegality or is characterized by some form of noncompliant behavior with an institutional set of rules.”
If you’re Libertarian, you might balk at the idea that anyone has the right to classify any of the free-market exchange as “illegal” simply because it doesn’t comply to some man’s rules. And if you’re not Libertarian, like me, you still might cringe. Who was it that decided to moralize economics anyways? What really gets me is the noncompliant behavior charge. Sounds a bit too totalitarian to me, don’t you think?
But I’m not here to talk about what shouldn’t be illegal, but what isn’t. Despite all popular beliefs, it is not illegal to work for cash. What is illegal is if you don’t report that cash to the IRS if you happen to be in that system. If you aren’t, then you have no-one to report to. Simple as that.
Your cash, your table.
Seriously. How can you work under your table? Unless you’re a weirdo like me, who enjoys sleeping and reading under the table. If you own the table, if the goods paid for are not “black market items”, then nothing nefarious has transacted. The cash is yours and you care little who sees.
But let’s take this a step further.
* * *
When you picture the government’s table sets, what do you see? Something worn, rigid, hard. There is not a prepared feast, and you have striven for a place, for crumbs. It is not a pleasant place to sit, but should remind one of the legalism overbearing cult.
What is this man-made table that demands large sums for such a meager fare? That when we do seek to build our separate table, we are treated as if we were dogs, though not inferior because we scrounge but because we refuse to conform.
What a contrast to God’s table!
… And that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.Job 36:16
Throughout scripture we see images of a bountiful table. A glorious table that invites everyone, offers complete hospitality, and satisfies beyond basest needs. Only the wicked would have you think that their table is legal and that “The table of the Lord is contemptible, offering polluted bread” (Malachi 1:7).
* * *
Who owns your table? Your income? Your food and home?
You are doing nothing illegal. Take away the scriptures, if you like. This is not a word game. You should not be cowering under your own table in your own home. (Unless you enjoy it, like me).
Yes, I am self-employed. It is not a shameful place to be, but a place of vibrancy, no debt, and no income tax. I love my table and all that God has blessed me with.
2 thoughts on “Who Owns Your Table?”
While I agree with most of this, it’s likely you’re putting your customers in a rough and possibly illegal spot by only accepting cash. I learned this the hard way when an artist refused to give me a W-9 so I could create a 1099 for the work I’d paid them for. Some of our finances are under more scrutiny than others.
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There are many ways to legally report how you spend your money without requiring paperwork from others. Just entails creativity 🙂