Ahkam in Brief
What is Khums?
It is a 20 percent obligatory Islamic tax on some items that we own under specific conditions.
Who should pay it?
Every individual Muslim who is at the age of puberty and is sane. For the minors, it becomes the parents or guardian’s duty to pay it.
On what is it paid?
There are various items to which Kums applies. For example, treasure trove and spoils of war, etc. But the most popular item in our daily life is the Khums on the surplus of income or on possessions that exceeds our needs. This is what we are going to discuss in detail in this video.
What is the surplus of income?
As we mentioned Khums is paid on what we own that exceeds our needs. In other words, Khums is paid on the surplus of what we own after spending on all permissible expenses, including the expenses for our dependants. The amount and the level of the expenses varies from a person to another based on his status. For example:
• Someone owns a two-floor house and he and his family live in one floor. But he regularly has guests and since he uses the second floor for his guests, there will be no Khums on the second floor.
• Or another person owns a big collection of books in his personal library which he doesn’t read. Here again, based on his status, for example if he is a researcher who usually requires these books, there will be no Khums even if he doesn’t read them. But if reading and research is not of his interest and he owns these books, he has to pay the Khums on them.
Finally, know that according to some jurists Khums is not paid on inheritance, a wife’s Mahr and on what Khums has been paid before.
When the Khums should be paid?
There are two options on when to pay Khums:
• First is to pay Khums upon receipt of the gain immediately. This means to pay the Khums on things which you think will be more than what you require once you own them.
• The second, which might be easier, is to fix an annual date as the Khums annual date. On this date one should pay Khums on the surplus of what one has for the preceding year.
Note On the annual date, one does not have discretion over his belongings on which Khums is not paid, unless he has permission from his Marja of Taqlid.
Based on the type of profession, there are three options to fixing the Khums annual date:
• One, a person who has a permanent profession, like an employee or a trader, can fix his year on the first day that he started his work.
• Two, a person who has various jobs like the one who is a trader, driver and also is employed. This person is free to either fix different days for each one of his professions or to fix one specific day for all his works combined together.
• Three, for the person who is not working, for each item he acquires his Khums year starts upon the receipt of the item and after one year Khums becomes due on the surplus of the item.
In general, in the Islamic laws a person is granted a one-year timeframe to determine whether they really need an item or not. After one year, if that item was required, then there will be no Khums on it, otherwise Khums must be paid on it. For example, if someone buys four shirts during the year but he only uses two of them, then on the annual date he has to pay the Khums for his two extra shirts.
Note that using an item itself is not enough to exclude it from Khums, but rather, the usage should be based on a real need according to one’s status and common sense.
A real example of a Khums calculation
Imagine today is your annual Khums day and you want to calculate the Khums that you have to pay. To make the calculation easier let’s sort the life’s expenditures into major categories: foodstuff, clothing and furniture, property, cash and debts.
• First: foodstuff — Whatever foodstuffs exist in your possession like rice, sugar, food cans, frozen meat, fish, etc, which is unused and which has a monetary value should be counted and one-fifth of it should be paid as Khums. However, if an item has no monetary value in the market, like a spoon of honey, it can be ignored.
• Second: clothing, furniture and housewares — Consider your unused or extra items acquired during the last year, one-fifth of them should be paid as Khums.
• Third: properties and vehicles — if your need in life is, for example, two cars and you own three, you have to pay Khums on the third car. Or if you have a house which suffices your need, but you’ve purchased another home, the latter is considered surplus of your need and the Khums should be paid on it.
• Note that if someone has bought a piece of land or has bought the material for building a house and it has been with him for more than a year untouched, there are different rulings that apply to it. Please refer to the Islamic Laws book for this issue.
• Fourth: Cash money — one-fifth of all money that is saved and is in hand needs to be paid as Khums.
• Fifth: debts and loans. If your money is lent to someone else, after one year Khums becomes due on it.
But if you’ve borrowed the money, there are two possible options:
First, if the money itself or its equivalent/replacement still exist, like when you buy something with it and that thing is still with you. In this case there’s no Khums due on it.
Second, if the money is spent and doesn’t exist anymore and if it was spent on your need according to your status there will be no Khums. In addition, you are allowed to deduct the amount of your debt from the total surplus that you have to pay Khums on. But note that you are allowed to deduct it only for one year.
A question; does one have to pay Khums on business capital and the equipment used in business?
Yes, one may have to pay Khums if it is more than one’s regular needs. But if paying the Khums affects his livelihood there are other details which should be referred to in the Islamic Laws book.
Paying the Khums
After calculating the items on which Khums should be paid, there are two ways to pay Khums:
• First way is to give one-fifth of the commodity itself. So, for example, if you have 5 kilos of rice, pay 1 kilo as Khums.
• The second way is to pay the cash equivalent according to the market value. So instead of giving the one kilo of rice, you pay its cash equivalent.
To whom Khums can be paid?
All Khums that one pays is consisted of two parts or Sahm in Arabic:
• Sahm of Imam (peace be upon him) which at the time of Ghaybah is given to the Marjaa we follow, and he permits where and how this portion is to be spent.
• Sahm of Sayyeds which is given to the poor and needy Sayyeds provided that it is not spent on Haram purposes. It is also better to consult your Marjaa or his representative before paying it.
In conclusion, it is good to know that in addition to the surplus of income there are six other things that Khums is obligatory on:
• Spoils of war.
• Treasure trove.
• Gems obtained from sea diving.
• Amalgamation of Halal wealth with Haraam.
• The land which a non-Muslim purchases from a Muslim.
You can read more about these items in the Islamic laws book.