The Only Difference Between a Tax Man and a Taxidermist: Great Literary Quotes for Tax Day


Tax day: it happens to everybody, whether we like it or not (and as Margaret Mitchell points out, despite the fact that we’ll never find it the least bit convenient). In order to offer a little camaraderie and condolences on this stressful occasion, we’ve put together a selection of our favorite tax-related sayings from literature and literary figures.

“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.” — Mark Twain

“Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss.” — Robert A. Heinlein

“Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.” — Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

“Paying tax should be framed as a glorious civic duty worthy of gratitude — not a punishment for making money.” — Alain de Botton

“You have put your finger on the dilemma of all government – and the reason I am an anarchist. The power to tax, once conceded, has no limits; it contains until it destroys … It may not be possible to do away with government – sometimes I think that government is an inescapable disease of human beings. But it may be possible to keep it small and starved and inoffensive – and can you think of a better way than by requiring the governors themselves to pay the costs of their antisocial hobby?” — Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

“In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.” — Voltaire, “Money”

“Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others.” — Oscar Wilde

“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 A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

“The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” — Gore Vidal, Matters of Fact and Fiction

“Government! Three fourths parasitic and the other fourth Stupid fumbling.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“‘Friends,’ says he, ‘and neighbors, the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement.'” — Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth

“I make a fortune from criticizing the policy of the government, and then hand it over to the government in taxes to keep it going.” — George Bernard Shaw

“I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.” — Herman Wouk

“Let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.” — John Green

“You have wondered, perhaps, why all real accountants wear hats? The are today’s cowboys. As will you be. Riding the American range. Riding herd on the unending torrents of financial data. The eddies, cataracts, arranged variations, fractious minutiae. You order the data, shepherd it, direct its flow, lead it where it’s needed, in the codified form in which it’s apposite. You deal in facts, gentlemen, for which there has been a market since man first crept from the primeval slurry. It is you—tell them what. Who ride, man the walls, define the pie, serve.” — David Foster Wallace, The Pale King