Are taxes a joke?
Certainly not when you have to complete a tax return and pay the taxes.
But over the years, there have been many humorous quotations regarding taxes. And taxes may still be on your mind, as the due date for filing individual income tax returns this year has been postponed to May 17.
Here are 25 quotations, in no particular order, from economists, philosophers, comedians — and even a famous cartoon dog:
1. “The hardest thing in the world is to understand the income tax.” — Albert Einstein
2. “Today, it takes more brains and effort to make out the income-tax form than it does to make the income” — fictitious character in Mad magazine Alfred E. Neuman
3. “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” — Benjamin Franklin
4. “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
5. “I’m proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money.” — comedian Arthur Godfrey
6. “The income tax has created more criminals than any other single act of government.” — Sen. Barry Goldwater
7. “Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.” — Author Herman Wouk
8. “You don’t pay taxes — they take taxes.” — comedian Chris Rock
9. “The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward.” — economist John Maynard Keynes
10. “It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.” — humorist Dave Barry
11. “Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.” — journalist/essayist H.L. Mencken
12. “The United States has a system of taxation by confession.” — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black
13. “Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.” — author Margaret Mitchell
14. “What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin.” — author Mark Twain
15. “There may be liberty and justice for all, but there are tax breaks only for some.” — chief economist and contributing editor to Tax Analysts Martin A. Sullivan
16. “A tax loophole is something that benefits the other guy. If it benefits you, it is tax reform.” — Sen. Russell B. Long
17. “Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.” — economist Milton Friedman
18. “You must pay taxes. But there’s no law that says you gotta leave a tip.” — financial services firm Morgan Stanley
19. “Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?” — humorist Peg Bracken
20. “When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.” — Plato
21. “The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.” — humorist Will Rogers
22. “The nation should have a tax system that looks like someone designed it on purpose.” — Sen. William Simon
23. “Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list.” — Snoopy (character created by Charles Schultz)
24. “There’s no such thing as a good tax.” — Winston Churchill
25. “The best things in life are free, but sooner or later the government will find a way to tax them.” — Anonymous
The IRS has a sense of humor, as evidenced by listing many of these and other humorous quotations about taxes on its site.
Barbara Weltman is the founder of Big Ideas for Small Business, Inc., which publishes Idea of the Day. She is the author of J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2020 and other books that inform the small business community of tax, financial, and legal information they should know about.