Thursday, March 15, 2007

Death and Taxes

Those two words, connoting unpleasant consequences, have been conjoined for at least 380 years, ever since Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe and Molly Flanders, wrote in 1726, in his Things as in the Political History of the Devil, “Certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed.”

I always accepted the myth that it was Benjamin Franklin who first wedded those two words, but that phrase by Defoe, who ironically was once sentenced to a debtor prison, was certainly a spy, and was considered the “brilliant quintessential scoundrel of the Augustan age,” preceded Franklin’s comments by over 70 years. Franklin’s observation, originally found in a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, gained fame in 1817 when reprinted in “The Works of Benjamin Franklin.” The full statement read, “Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears that it will last; but nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes.” While it is sometimes comforting to cling to the notion that certitudes do exist in our unpredictable world, death and taxes would not be our favorite choices for inexorability.

In addition, while most will await the former (death) with forbearance and resignation, the mere mention of the word taxes creates a rebellious, gut wrenching anxiety annually, that this year will climax approximately one month from this reading, on April 15 th. It is with this in mind, in the hope that at least some of the following thoughts will assuage and diminish the usual feelings of frustration that are normally associated with Tax Day that the following is presented. C’mon, laugh a little! (Since many of the authors are unknown, I have listed only those whose names I recognize).

“It’s income tax time again, Americans — time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up your pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.— Dave Barry

“We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two. ‘At least,’ as one man said, ‘there’s one advantage about death; it doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.’”

“Blessed are the young, for they will inherit the national debt.” — Herbert Hoover

“The term “tax humor” is no doubt an oxymoron to many people; to the more cynical, it is an apt description of the entire tax code.”

“The reward of energy, enterprise, and thrift — is taxes.”

“The best things in life are free, but sooner or later the government will find a way to tax them.”

“Whoever hopes a faultless tax to see, hopes a ne’er was, is not, and ne’er shall be.” — Alexander Pope

“The taxpayer — that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take a civil service exam.” — Ronald Reagan

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

“Count the day won when, turning on its axis, this earth imposes no additional taxes.” Franklin P. Adams

“If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less, tax it.” — Old economics adage.

“America is the land of opportunity. Everybody can become a taxpayer.”

“Congress thinks it’s a lot easier to trim the taxpayer than expenses.”

“One of the great blessings about living in a democracy is that we have complete control over how we pay our taxes…cash, check, money order, or credit card.”

“The income tax forms have been simplified beyond all understanding.”

“It’s too bad for the middle income person. They earn too much to avoid paying taxes, and make too little to afford paying them.”

“The latest income tax form has been greatly simplified. It consists of only three parts: 1) How much did you make last year? 2) How much have you got left? 3) Send amount listed in part 2.”

“Taxes and golf are alike. You drive your heart out for the green and then end up in the hole.”

“I’m 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

“Called in for an audit, Mr. Briggs was confronted by a surly IRS agent. ‘It says here Mr. Briggs that you are a bachelor, yet you claim a dependent son. Surely this must be a mistake.’ Looking him straight in the eye, Mr. Briggs replied, ‘Yup, it surely was.’ ”

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

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

“The United States is the only country where it takes more brains to figure your tax than to earn the money to pay it.”

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

“We all get excited these days about paying taxes because we never know which country our money is going to.”

“Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fellow behind the tree.” — Russel B. Long

“The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it’s just sort of a tired feeling.” — Paula Poundstone

“American tax laws are constantly changing as our elected representatives seek new ways to ensure that whatever tax advice we receive is incorrect.” — Dave Barry

“No one who has witnessed tax lobbyists’ perennial infestation of Capitol Hill can ever again confuse the making of tax laws with the making of sausages. At least when you make sausages, you know the pigs won’t be coming back.”

“In case you didn’t know, ethanol is made by mixing corn with your tax dollars.”

It’s only natural for late night TV hosts to use the income tax as a subject to be ridiculed. At the same time the President of the country, regardless of political affiliation, is often used as the foil in order to make a humorous point. So, when you read the following, lighten up and at least SMILE.

“Your taxes are due [a month from now]. You can make out your check to Halliburton, or you can do what I’m going to do. I’m filing my first joint return. No. I’m not getting married. I’m sending the IRS an actual joint with a note that says, ‘If you think I’m paying for this war, you must be high.’ ” — Bill Maher

“It’s tax time and President Bush is saving a lot on taxes this year. He’s writing off his entire second term.” — David Letterman

“While President Bush was doing his taxes, under dependents he listed Scooter Libby, Tom Delay, and Jack Abramoff. Then he caught himself. Dependants? Oh, I though it said defendants.”

“Last night in his speech, President Bush called for a complete overhaul of the tax code. He said he was shocked to find out that some millionaires in this country were still paying taxes.” — Jay Leno

“President Bush says he’s going to simplify the tax code. Only the states that are blue will have to pay.” — David Letterman

“President Bush’s tax returns are a little different. He claimed the Christian Right as dependants; he declared the 2000 election as a gift; and he tried to write off all the mileage he got from 9/11.” — Bill Maher

“President Bush said yesterday it doesn’t make any sense to raise taxes on the rich because rich people can figure out how to dodge taxes. Then Dick Cheney said ‘Shut up! You’re ruining everything.’” — Jay Leno

“This week President Bush and Vice President Cheney released their tax returns. Cheney made more money than the president did. When asked about it, the president said ‘That’s true, but he made more decisions.’ ” — Conan O’Brien

“Earlier today, the White House released President Bush’s tax return. Not surprisingly, under dependants, the president listed Iraq.” — Conan O’Brien

“Technically, you’re not paying taxes. According to the Bush administration, your bank account is being liberated.” — Jay Leno

“At last night’s debate, Democrats attacked President Bush saying his tax cuts for the rich bankrupt the middle class. And Bush said, ‘Hey! Thanks for the new slogan.’ ” — Craig Kilborn

“I hate to be the one to remind you, but just pretty soon it is going to be April 15 th, it is going to be tax time. You know what I’m saying? Are you ready? Well you know when something like this happens, New Yorkers always try to put the best face they can on a situation. For example, for an extra $50 the hookers in Times Square will handle your extension.” — David Letterman

As Porky Pig says: “Th-Th-Th-That’s all folks!” Good luck with your taxes.


Post a Comment

<< Home