Taxation

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To tax (from the latin taxare: to estimate, which in turn is from tangere: to touch) is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon an individual or legal entity by a state or the functional equivalent of a state.

Sourced[edit]

  • To please universally was the object of his life; but to tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men.
    • Edmund Burke, speech on American taxation, House of Commons (April 19, 1774); The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, ed. Paul Langford, vol. 2, p. 454 (1981).
  • And I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponent, my opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I'll say no. And they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say, to them, Read my lips: No new taxes!
  • Note, besides, that it is no more immoral to directly rob citizens than to slip indirect taxes into the price of goods that they cannot do without.
  • There is one difference between a tax collector and a taxidermist — the taxidermist leaves the hide.
    • Mortimer Caplan, American bureaucrat, Director of the IRS. Time magazine, 1st February 1963.
  • The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer’s pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue.
  • If you tax too high, the revenue will yield nothing.
  • Of all debts men are least willing to pay the taxes. What a satire is this on government! Everywhere they think they get their money’s worth, except for these.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Politics,” Essays: Second Series, in The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 1, p. 302 (1929).
  • Mr. Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, had interrupted him in a description of his work on electricity to put the impatient inquiry: 'But, after all, what use is it?' Like a flash of lightning came the response: 'Why, sir, there is every probability that you will soon be able to tax it!'
    • Michael Faraday, in James Kendall, Michael Faraday, Man of Simplicity, Introduction (1955), p. 14.
  • Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
    • Benjamin Franklin, Letter to M. Leroy (Nov. 13, 1789). Complete Works, vol. 10, ed. John Bigelow (1887-1888).
  • Civil servants and priests, soldiers and ballet-dancers, schoolmasters and police constables, Greek museums and Gothic steeples, civil list and services list—the common seed within which all these fabulous beings slumber in embryo is taxation.
    • Karl Marx, Moralizing Criticism and Critical Morality (1847).
  • Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them!
  • Indoors or out, no one relaxes
    In March, that month of wind and taxes,
    The wind will presently disappear,
    The taxes last us all the year.
    • Ogden Nash, “Thar She Blows,” Versus (1949).
  • The power to tax is not the power to destroy while this Court sits.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., dissenting, Panhandle Oil Company v. Mississippi ex rel. Knox, Attorney General, 277 U.S. 223 (1928).
  • Printing money is merely taxation in another form. Rather than robbing citizens of their money, government robs their money of its purchasing power.
  • Taxes are the chief business of a conqueror of the world.
  • A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
  • Men who prefer any load of infamy, however great, to any pressure of taxation, however light.
  • It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other; that each man makes a free and purely voluntary contract with all others who are parties to the Constitution, to pay so much money for so much protection, the same as he does with any other insurance company; and that he is just as free not to be protected, and not to pay any tax, as he is to pay a tax, and be protected.

    But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact.  The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life.  And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

    The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets.  But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.

    The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act.  He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit.  He does not pretend to be anything but a robber.  He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector," and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to "protect" those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection.  He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these.  Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do.  He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign," on account of the "protection" he affords you.  He does not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands.  He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these.  In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

    The proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves "the government," are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman.

    In the first place, they do not, like him, make themselves individually known; or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility of their acts.  On the contrary, they secretly (by secret ballot) designate some one of their number to commit the robbery in their behalf, while they keep themselves practically concealed.

  • The law before us, my lords, seems to be the effect of that practice of which it is intended likewise to be the cause, and to be dictated by the liquor of which it so effectually promotes the use; for surely it never before was conceived by any man entrusted with the administration of public affairs, to raise taxes by the destruction of the people.
    • Philip Dormer Stanhope, from a speech in the House of Lords (Feb. 22, 1743), on the Gin Licensing Act, recorded in The Parliamentary History of England to the Year 1803, vol. XII.
  • Countries, therefore, when lawmaking falls exclusively to the lot of the poor cannot hope for much economy in public expenditure; expenses will always be considerable, either because taxes cannot touch those who vote for them or because they are assessed in a way to prevent that.
  • In other words, a democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.
  • An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy.
    • Daniel Webster, McCulloch v. Maryland 17 U.S. 327 (1819). Usually reported as "The power to tax is the power to destroy". Webster, in arguing the case, said: "An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy", 17 U.S. 327 (1819). Chief Justice John Marshall reflected this in his decision, saying: "That the power of taxing it [the bank] by the States may be exercised so as to destroy it, is too obvious to be denied" (p. 427), and "That the power to tax involves the power to destroy … [is] not to be denied" (p. 431).

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)[edit]

  • In the usual progress of things, the necessities of a nation in every stage of its existence will be found at least equal to its resources.
  • Every good citizen … should be willing to devote a brief time during some one day in the year, when necessary, to the making up of a listing of his income for taxes … to contribute to his Government, not the scriptural tithe, but a small percentage of his net profits.
    • Cordell Hull, remarks in the House, April 26, 1913, Congressional Record, vol. 50, p. 505.
  • If the Government cannot reduce the "terrific" tax burden on the country, I will predict that you will have a depression that will curl your hair, because we are just taking too much money out of this economy that we need to make the jobs that you have to have as time goes on.
    • George M. Humphrey, secretary of the treasury, at a news conference on January 15, 1957, as reported by The New York Times, January 17, 1957, p. 20. On January 16, President Eisenhower sent to Congress a record peacetime budget of $71.8 billion.

Attributed[edit]

  • The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.
    • Variously attributed to Jean Baptiste Colbert, minister of finance to Louis XIV of France; and Cardinal Mazarin, under whom Colbert served. Reported in Burton Stevenson, ed., The Home Book of Quotations (1967), 10th ed., p. 2300f, no. 5.
  • We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect.
    • Attributed to Harry L. Hopkins, administrator of the Works Progress Administration. Although Frank R. Kent mentioned the subject of "spending, taxes, and election" in reference to Hopkins in his column, "The Great Game of Politics" (Baltimore, Maryland, Sun, September 25, 1938, p. 1, 16) he first attributed "we are going to spend and spend and spend, and tax and tax and tax, and elect and elect and elect" to Hopkins in the Sun (October 14, 1938), p. 15. Joseph Alsop and Robert Kintner in their column, "The Capital Parade" (Washington, D.C., Evening Star, November 9, 1938, p. A–11), elaborated Hopkins's "probably apocryphal" words to: "Now, get this through your head. We're going to spend and spend and spend, and tax and tax and tax, and re-elect and re-elect and re-elect, until you're dead or forgotten." Arthur Krock, in his column, "In the Nation" (The New York Times, November 10, 1938, p. 26), reported the wording as "we will spend and spend, and tax and tax, and elect and elect". He repeated this wording in The New York Times (November 13, 1938), sec. 4, p. E–3. A letter by Hopkins denying this attributed quotation and a response by Krock were published in The New York Times, November 24, 1938, p. 26. Over the years the quotation attributed to Hopkins has evolved into the wording above.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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