Quotes on Taxes

When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.

— Plato, The Republic

Elections should be held on April 16th- the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.

— Thomas Sowell

The purpose of a tax cut is to leave more money where it belongs — in the hands of the working men and working women who earned it in the first place.

— Robert Dole, Barron’s

There’s always somebody who is paid too much, and taxed too little – and it’s always somebody else.

— Cullen Hightower

A taxpayer need not arrange its affairs so as to maximize taxes as long as the transaction has a legitimate business purpose.

— Judge Cornelia G. Kennedy, The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, April 20, 1992, aff. of the Tax Court holding in Proctor & Gamble v. Commissioner

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.

— H. L. Mencken

Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.

— Calvin Coolidge

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

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss.

— Robert Heinlein

If I deny the authority of the State when it presents my tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard, this makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects.

— Henry David Thoreau

To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not.

— Thomas Paine

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

— Frederic Bastiat, Selected Essays on Political Economy

The most laughable White House criticism is that tax cuts are a ‘free lunch.’ The American people’s work created that money. Only in Washington could there be a belief that letting people keep more of what they create is a giveaway.

— Forbes, August 26, 1996

Most [tax revisions] didn’t improve the system, they made it more like Washington itself: complicated, unfair, cluttered with gobbledygook and loopholes designed for those with the power and influence to hire high-priced legal and tax advisers.

— Ronald Reagan

There is no escaping the fact that when the taxation of large incomes is excessive, they tend to disappear.

— Calvin Coolidge

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

— Thomas Jefferson

What does it mean when Republicans and Democrats alike warn us about the ‘pain’ involved in cutting government spending – in their spending less of our money? For the average citizen, what pain is there in his keeping more of his money to invest it the way he wants? Taxes cost people. Tax cuts do not cost government.

— Theodore J. Forstmann, Forbes, October 14, 1996

The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away.

— John S. Coleman

Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing — and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.

— Will Rogers

Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

To lay with one hand the power of government on the property of the citizen, and with the other to bestow it on favored individuals …. is none the less robbery because it is …. called taxation.

— US Supreme Court in Loan Association v. Topeka (1874)

Politicians never accuse you of ‘greed’ for wanting other people’s money — only for wanting to keep your own money.

— Joseph Sobran

America is a land of taxation that was founded to avoid taxation.

— Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Will the shutting out of foreign goods increase the total amount of wealth in this country? Can foreign nations grow rich at our expense by selling us goods under cost price? Can a people tax themselves into prosperity? Can a man stand in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle?

— Winston Churchill, Speech at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England (1904)

People who relieve others of their money with guns are called robbers. It does not alter the immorality of the act when the income transfer is carried out by government.

— Cal Thomas

The taxpayer; that’s someone who works for the federal government, but doesn’t have to take a civil service examination.

— Ronald Reagan

In 1950, the average family of four paid 2% of its earnings to federal taxes. Today it pays 24%.

— William R. Mattox, Jr.

I don’t like the income tax. Every time we talk about these taxes we get around to the idea of ‘from each according to his capacity and to each according to his needs’. That’s socialism. It’s written into the Communist Manifesto. Maybe we ought to see that every person who gets a tax return receives a copy of the Communist Manifesto with it so he can see what’s happening to him..

— T. Coleman Andrews

The power of tax is not the power to destroy while this court sits…

— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Panhandle Oil Co. v. Mississippi ex rel. Knox

The property of the people belongs to the people. To take it from them by taxation cannot be justified except by urgent public necessity. Unless this principle be recognized, our country is no longer secure, our people no longer free.

— Calvin Coolidge

If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state – to relinquish its protection and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others, for his position is a passive one, and while passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man’s property against his will is an infringement of his rights.

— Herbert Spencer

The share-the-wealth movement appeals most to those with the least to share.

The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.

— Will Rogers, Illiterate Digest (1924), “Helping the Girls with their Income Taxes”

There is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich and poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.

— Justice Learned Hand

Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.

— Herman Wouk

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.

— Mark Twain

You can talk about “social justice” all you want. But what death taxes boil down to is letting politicians take money from widows and orphans to pay for goodies that they will hand out to others, in order to buy votes to get reelected. That is not social justice or any other kind of justice.

— Thomas Sowell

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

It was not until the Abraham Lincoln administration that an income tax was imposed on Americans. Its stated purpose was to finance the war, but it took until 1872 for it to be repealed. During the Grover Cleveland administration, Congress enacted the Income Tax Act of 1894. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1895. It took the Sixteenth Amendment (1913) to make permanent what the Framers feared — today’s income tax.

— Walter Williams

The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.

— Will Rogers

There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.

— Robert Heinlein

Taxation being a burden, must needs weigh lightest on each individual, when it bears upon all alike.

— Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise On Political Economy

I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.

— Calvin Coolidge

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

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

— G. Gordon Liddy

If you would not confront your neighbor and demand his money at the point of a gun to solve every new problem that may appear in your life, you should not allow the government to do it for you.

— William E. Simon

The power to tax involves the power to destroy.

— Chief Justice John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819

The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government.

— Barry Goldwater

It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income.

— Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1758

The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys.

— Thomas Jefferson

A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget…. As the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues. Prosperity is the real way to balance our budget. By lowering tax rates, by increasing jobs and income, we can expand tax revenues and finally bring our budget into balance.

— John F. Kennedy

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

— John Maynard Keynes

There is no such thing as a good tax.

— Winston Churchill

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

— Albert Einstein

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents…

— James Madison

An expanding prosperity requires that the largest possible amount of surplus income should be invested in productive enterprise under the direction of the best personal ability. This will not be done if the rewards of such action are largely taken away by taxation.

— Calvin Coolidge

We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.

— Ronald Reagan, Address to National Association of Realtors, March 28, 1982

Government does not have an unlimited claim on the earnings of individuals.

— Barry Goldwater

To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury.

— Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book

The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending.

— Thomas Sowell

This [preparing my tax return] is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher.

— Albert Einstein

It is a good thing that we do not get as much government as we pay for.

— Will Rogers

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

If a man is compelled to work against his will for one minute or one second, for any cause- whatsoever – that is involuntary servitude.

— Ayn Rand

Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.

— Benjamin Franklin

What does ‘fair’ mean? In the dictionary, it means that everyone has to do about the same. Ten percent of a million dollars is still ten times more than ten percent of a hundred thousand dollars, and twenty times more than ten percent of fifty thousand. But ‘fairness’ in the tax code has come to mean that we take all the money we can from successful people and dole it back … and what do we end up with? We end up with a jobs program for bureaucrats, and accountants, and lawyers, and somewhere along the way the taxpaying citizens are just plain forgotten. I’ll tell you what I think ‘fair’ means. I think it means we all bear the same burden in the same proportion. I think it means that the system not only allows, but encourages us to participate in the economy.

— Tom Clancy, Executive Orders

Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.

— Milton Friedman

For an illustration of the difference between proportionate and progressive taxation, we can look to the Bible. There, tithing is explained as the economic basis of our Judaic-Christian religions. The Lord says you shall contribute one-tenth and He says, ‘If I prosper you 10 times as much you will give 10 times as much.’ That is proportionate — but look what happens today when you start computing Caesar’s share. A man of average income who suddenly prospered ten times as much would find his personal income tax increased 43 times.

— Ronald Reagan

The principle involved here is time-honored and true: and that is — it’s your money.

— Robert Dole

Taxation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor. Seizing the results of someone’s labor is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing him to carry on various activities.

— Robert Nozick