Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: As we already pay taxes to the governments we live under, and our taxes are used to feed the poor and sustain them, is it enough to say that under a non Islamic government we are already fulfilling the task of paying Zakat if we give our tax with the intention of Zakat?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
No, we cannot say that our taxes paid to governments fulfill the obligation of Zakat.
The obligation of Zakat is only fulfilled when we transfer the required amount of wealth directly to a person who is deemed ‘poor’ in Islamic legal terms. In other words, there needs to be an actual transfer from one individual to another.
There is no saying that the specific wealth we give to the government in taxes is used in such a manner. Rather, as you are well aware, taxes are used for a plethora of things: funding infrastructure, enforcement of public order, subsidies, the operation of government, the military, paying off the debt of the state, and so forth.
In light of this, there is little reason for us to assume in the absence of explicitly stated government policy that the money we are paying in taxes is going into the actual possession of a poor person.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani