Today is tax day, the day by which we must submit any outstanding income taxes "owed" the federal and state governments from last year, along with misnamed documents like the "EZ" form and myriad other paperwork. Normally, April 15 is the deadline, but this year that date fell on a Sunday, and Monday was deemed a holiday — "Emancipation Day" — in Washington, D.C., so our sentence was commuted until midnight tonight. Since before our nation’s founding, taxes have been a topic of derision and debate. Below is an assemblage of taxation insights, some better known than others, some humorous and others brutally honest. Enjoy them — at least for now — tax free.
"It is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives."
- Resolution of the Stamp Act Congress
"In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
- Benjamin Franklin
"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets."
- Will Rogers
"Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial re-enactments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not to wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted, to be free."
- Thomas Jefferson
"The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin."
- Mark Twain
"The power to tax is the power to destroy … A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny."
- Calvin Coolidge
"The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward."
- John Maynard Keynes
"Taxes are paid in the sweat of every man who labors because they are a burden on production and can only be paid by production. If excessive, they are reflected in idle factories, tax-sold farms, and, hence, in hordes of the hungry tramping the streets and seeking jobs in vain. Our workers may never see a tax bill, but they pay in deductions from wages, in increased cost of what they buy, or (as now) in broad cessation of employment."
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"The thing generally raised on city land is taxes."
- Charles Dudley Warner
"The tax on capital gains directly affects investment decisions, the mobility and flow of risk capital ... the ease or difficulty experienced by new ventures in obtaining capital and thereby the strength and potential for growth in the economy."
- John F. Kennedy
"If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet."
- The Beatles
"If you cut taxes and revenues go up, you haven’t cut taxes enough."
- Milton Friedman
"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
- Albert Einstein
"The taxpayer — that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination."
- Ronald Reagan