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1. It is better to tax 25 per cent of something than 60 per cent of nothing.

Johannes Bjelke-Petersen (b.1911) Australian politician. Quoted in “Sayings of the Week,” Sydney Morning Herald (July 6, 1985)


2. Writing checks to the IRS that include strings of zeroes does not bother me…Overall, we feel extraordinary lucky to have been dealt a hand in life that enables us to write large checks to the government rather than one requiring the government to regularly write checks to us-say, because we are disabled or unemployed.

Warren Buffett (b.1930) U.S. entrepreneur and financier. Chairman’s Letter to Shareholders, Berkshire Hathaway 1998 Annual Report (March 1, 1999)


3. To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men.

Edmund Burke (1729-97) British philosopher and politician. On American Taxation (1775)


4. Read my lips: no new taxes.

George Bush (b.1924) U.S. former president. His promise made during the 1988 presidential campaign, which he later broke. New York Times (August 19, 1988)


5. Tax laws also benefit those who have the best lobbying effort…and the larger the corporations are, the smaller proportion they pay in taxes.

Jimmy Carter (b.1924) U.S. former president and business executive. Interview, Playboy (November 1976)


6. It was as true as…taxes. And nothing’s truer than taxes.

Charles Dickens (1812-70) British novelist. David Copperfield (1849-50)


7. The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) U.S. physicist. Attrib.


8. President Herbert Hoover returned his salary to government. His idea caught on and now we’re all doing it.

Sam Ewing (1920-2001) U.S. author. Referring to taxation. Quoted in Wall Street Journal (July 23, 1996)


9. It has been said that one man’s loophole is another man’s livelihood…this is not fair, because the loophole-livelihood of those who are reaping undeserved benefits can be the economic noose of those…paying more than they should.

Millicent Fenwick (1910-92) U.S. politician and writer. Speaking up (1982)


10. Taxes are a barrier to progress, and they punish rather than reward success.

Steve Forbes (b.1947) U.S. publishing executive. “The Moral Case for the Flat Tax,” Imprimis (October 1996)


11. Taxes are not simply a means of raising revenue; they are also…the price we pay for the privilege of working, the price we pay for being productive, and the price we pay for being innovative and successful.

Steve Forbes (b.1947) U.S. publishing executive. “The Moral Case for the Flat Tax,” Imprimis (October 1996)


12. But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) U.S. politician, inventor and journalist. Letter to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy (November 13, 1789)


13. Inflation is one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.

Milton Friedman (b.1912) U.S. economist and winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics. Observer (London) (September 22, 1974)


14. The best taxes are such as are levied upon consumptions, especially those of luxury…They seem, in some measure, voluntary; since a man may chuse how far he will use the commodity which is taxed.

David Hume (1711-76) Scottish philosopher and historian. 1752. “Of Taxes,” Essays, Moral, Political and Literary (1754), pt. 2, essay. 8


15. Sex and taxes are in many ways the same. Tax does to cash what males do to genes. It dispenses assets among the population as a whole.

Steve Jones (b.1944) British geneticist. Speech, London (January 25, 1997)


16. Under the hypnosis of war hysteria, with a pusillanimous Congress rubber-stamping every whim of the White House, we passed the withholding tax. We appointed ourselves so many policemen and with this club in our hands, we set out to collect a tax from every hapless individual who received wages from us.

Vivien Kellems (1896-1975) U.S. industrialist, feminist and lecturer. 1952. Quoted in “The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What To Do About it,” Denver Post (Amity Shlaes; 1999)


17. The avoidance of taxes is the only pursuit that still carries any reward.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) British economist. Attrib.


18. Patrick Henry railed against taxation without representation. He should see it with representation.

Saul Landau (b.1936) U.S. filmmaker and writer. New York Times (1995)


19. The apportionment of taxes…is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice.

James Madison (1751-1836) U.S. president. The Federalist (1788), no.10


20. Logic and taxation are not always the best of riends.

James C. McReynolds (1862-1946) U.S. jurist. Sonneborn Bros. v. Cureton (1923)


21. Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.

Margaret Mitchell (1900-49) U.S. author. Gone with the Wind (1936)


22. I don’t think that meals have any business being deductible. I’m for separation of calories and corporations.

Ralph Nader (b.1934) U.S. lawyer and consumer-rights campaigner. Wall Street Journal (July 1985)


23. Taxes will eventually become a voluntary process, with the possible exception of real estate-the one physical thing that does not move easily and has computable value…wait until that’s all there is left to tax, when the rest of the things we buy and sell come from everywhere, anywhere, and nowhere.

Nicholas Negroponte (b.,1943) U.S. academic, cofounder and director of MIT Media Laboratory. Referring to the prospects for taxing Internet commerce. “Taxing Taxes,” Wired Magazine (May 6, 1998)


24. Taxation without representation is tyranny.

James Otis (1725-83) U.S. lawyer and politician. February 1761. According to tradition and a note in the papers of President John Adams this legendary phrase was used by Otis in the Massachusetts Superior Court, Boston. Attrib.


25. The British parliament has no right to tax the Americans…Taxation and representation are inseparably united. God hath joined them; no British parliament can put them asunder.

Charles Pratt (1714-94) British politician. Speech, House of Lords, British Parliament (December 1765)


26. A snare and a delusion.

Donald T. Regan (b.1918) U.S. politician. Referring to the flat tax. An old expression. U.S. News & World Report (1984)


27. Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) U.S. actor, columnist and humorist. The Illiterate Digest (1924)


28. No taxation without respiration.

Bob Schaffer (b.1962) U.S. politician. Referring to phasing out estate tax. Time (August 4, 1997)


29. To tax and to please is no more given to man than to love and be wise.

John Simon (1873-1954) British foreign secretary and chancellor of the exchequer. Budget speech, House of Commons, British Parliament (April 25, 1938)


30. The accountants have told me that I can have one foot in Jersey, my left earlobe in the Isle of Man, and my right foot in Zurich and pay little or no tax, but…I will not be running away to the South of France.

Alan Sugar (b.1947) British entrepreneur, founder and chairman of Amstrad electronics company. Guardian (London) (March 29, 1984)