For Your Reading Entertainment: As Certain As Death, Quotations About Taxes.

April 12, 2010

While mired in tax filing hell this week, I recommend giving the 1040 and pencil a break and taking some time to flip through As Certain as Death, Quotations About Taxes, a new Tax Analysts book released today which contains a collaboration of amusing, famous and pithy quotes (and lyrics) on taxes. A PDF of the book is available on Tax.com. The book was compiled by Jeffery L. Yablon and contains 1,527 quotations over 260 pages. Christopher Bergin highlights some of the more notable quotes:

"Grazing" in the book this weekend, I came upon this quote: "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can depend on the support of Paul." – George Bernard Shaw.

I was struck by this quote because I'm beginning to worry that this is how the Obama administration intends to rule. If so, maybe it should consider the advice of Winston Churchill: "We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket trying to lift himself up by its handle."

Franklin Roosevelt's advice, however, would be: "Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society." But I never trusted politicians with inherited wealth who were raised to think life is a country club.

If I sound a little cranky, it's because I also spent this weekend giving a final review to my income tax returns. Now, I don't mind paying taxes at all – my taxes, not the taxes of others! Here are some quotes that help illustrate how I feel.

"A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing something right." Anonymous

"The reward of energy, enterprise and thrift – is taxes." – William Feather

But as bad as it is, I've never been angry enough about my taxes to want to hit something. To wit: "Last time I looked at a check, I said to myself, 'Who the hell is FICA? And when I meet him, I'm going to punch him in the face.'" – Shaquille O'Neill

Moving on, here are some other samples from the book.

"What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue." – Thomas Paine

"Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but Democrats believe every day is April 15." – Ronald Reagan

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." – P.J. O'Rourke

"When the same man, or set of men, holds the sword and the purse, there is an end of liberty." – George Mason

"Make sure you pay your taxes; otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble." – Richard Nixon

And, of course, there's the famous Albert Einstein quote: "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the Income Tax."

But my favorite over the years, and still my favorite, comes from Marty Ginsburg: "Basic tax, as everyone knows, is the only genuinely funny subject in law school." I thought that in law school, and I still think taxes are a scream. And looking at this book, you cannot deny that the subject of taxation has inspired some great quotation.

Those are all great quotes, but I must say my personal favorite in the book is the following:

Late one night, just blocks from the Capitol, a mugger jumped into the path of a well-dressed fellow and stuck a gun in his ribs. ''Give me your money,'' the thief demanded. ''Are you kidding?'' the man said. 'I'm a U.S. congressman.'' ''In that case,'' the mugger growled, cocking his weapon, ''give me my money.'' – Playboy Magazine

All in all a great read. Especially for those suffering through the tax filing blues.


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