If one works and lives in Israel and pays taxes up to 50% of his income (35% income tax and 16% VAT), can the % of paid taxes that corresponds to the % of the state budget that goes to social programs be considered as Tzedaka?
Taxed cannot be considered as maaser or tzedakah money, even when part of the contribution is used for social programs.
The reason for this is that tax contributions are not optional, but obligatory. Obligatory payments of all types cannot be counted as maaser money, even if the cause is noble.
However, a person’s income is only calculated after tax is deducted – meaning, one need only give maaser from one’s net income, and not from one’s total revenue before taxes.