For Tax Day – Taxing quotations

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017

by Tom Purcell

April is the most miserable month of the year — because that’s when I must make a massive contribution to the federal government.

It consoles me, however, to learn what some of our greatest minds have to say about taxes. I found their quotations in Inc. Magazine:

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” — Winston Churchill

“They can’t collect legal taxes from illegal money.” — Al Capone

“I don’t know if I can live on my income or not — the government won’t let me try it.” — Bob Thaves

Hey, Winston, progressives will never understand your point. Al, thanks to taxes, legitimate work, like crime, also doesn’t pay. And Bob, you couldn’t have described our silent business partner, the government, any better. Here are some more gems:

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” — Albert Einstein

“Today, it takes more brains and effort to make out the income-tax form than it does to make the income.” — Alfred E. Neuman

“A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing something right.” — Anonymous

If Einstein failed to understand tax complexity, none of us stand a chance. Alfred E., I rely on a super-smart CPA to help me comply with onerous tax requirements. And Anonymous nails the bizarre sense of punishment I experience every April for the petty crime of working hard. Speaking of tax pain, here’s more genius:

“You don’t pay taxes. They take taxes.” — Chris Rock

“Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” — Calvin Coolidge

“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.” — Dave Barry

Chris, the government’s understanding of “contribution” is similar to its understanding of “investment;” in both cases, we pay. Silent “small government” Cal is my kind of president. And Dave, which brand of pencil do you recommend? I still worry about the popularity of Bernie Sanders’ socialist policies among the young. I hope they come to their senses and heed this advice:

“America is a land of taxation that was founded to avoid taxation.” — Laurence J. Peter

“What the government gives it must first take away.” — John S. Coleman

“There’s nothing wrong with the younger generation that becoming taxpayers won’t cure.” — Dan Bennett

The IRS — which, apparently, does have a sense of humor — posted a series of tax quotations on its website. Some of them are grand:

“A tax loophole “is something that benefits the other guy. If it benefits you, it is tax reform.” — Russell B. Long

“I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is — I could be just as proud for half the money.” — Arthur Godfrey

“Taxation with representation ain’t so hot, either.” — Gerald Barzan

Russ, we’re overdue for real tax reform, and hopefully, Republicans can pull it off. Arthur, I could be just as proud for a quarter of the money. And Gerry, you’re spot on. Here are some more interesting quotes from the IRS site:

“People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women.” — Unknown

“Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf.” — Will Rogers

“Where there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.” — Plato

Well, then. I guess tax woes have been around for a while.

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery novel, both available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at