Zakat Question: Can tax qualify as zakat

Assalamu alaykum,

Given most of my income is taxed (if you include VAT and other non-income taxes), and a decent proportion goes to zakat-eligible muslims, from a fiqh perspective theoretically (depending on the numbers) can I pay my zakat through my taxes?


May Allah bless you.

No you cannot pay your Zakat through the payment of your taxes. This is also the opinion of the majority of the scholars. Even in in the Islamic history, when the Khalifa had to impose extra taxes in parallel with Zakat, the scholars did not allow the tax payment to be a substitute to the Zakat.
Although Zakat distribution functions as a taxation system, it is in itself an act of worship (ibadat). Hence, just like for Salah there are rules to ensure its validity, similarly for Zakat there are specific conditions to ensure it is valid from a Fiqh perspective. These conditions are not met through payments of income tax and other taxes. For example, our taxes can be used to bail out banks as it has happened in the past. It is spend on the National debt interest, state pensions to people who are not poor, and on culture (i.e. sports, museum etc). On the other hand, Zakat can only be spent on certain type of recipients with the ultimate aim of establishing an environment where Muslims can prosper and Islam can flourish.
Secondly, tax is the relation that you have between you and the government, whilst Zakat is the relation you have between you and your Creator.

And Allah knows best!

OK so I need to explain this to someone as they asked me. But to be honest I don’t really get it.

To reiterate - we live as a minority. The people of this country have a system where the “rich” pay to support the poor, and also to pay for other things, e.g. roads. Ultimately, I pay £100 to the govt in a year, and a zakat-eligible muslim receives let’s say £2 in cash and lets say £5 in other direct benefits (e.g. free NHS, free school). And the other £93 is spent on roads, defence, etc. etc. So from one end to the other doesn’t feel different to zakat in that I have no choice and money (and a service) is given to a zakat eligible muslim for free.

When I studied conditions of zakat I don’t recall any conditions other than the conditions of who needs to pay it, how you calculate it, and who the recipients are.

Regarding the points above, “Zakat can only be spent on certain type of recipients” that seems fulfilled? Because the government give the money to zakat-eligible recipients. In my example, 2% of my payments are given in cash (and 3% in services).

Regarding “Zakat is the relation you have between you and your Creator”, I don’t understand how paying it to a government is different to paying it to a charity.

jk for your time - genuinely not trying to be awkward!

In Islam, we have actions that reflect one another yet they are different in their rulings. So, having similarities in the form, does not mean two actions are equals.
Zakat may have similarities with income tax and others,yet, they cannot be considered the same. One is imposed by the government and the Other is imposed by God the Almighty. Tomorrow if there is no government to impose a tax upon its citizen, your duty towards God does not end, the Zakat will still remain compulsory to be paid.

And Allah knows best!