Death & Taxes: 9 Quotes From Authors Who Feel Your Tax-Day Pain

Editor's Note:

If you’re stirred by these author quotes, amble down our archive for more.

In case you missed the onslaught of promo emails from TurboTax, today is the cutoff for filing your income taxes. Tax Day may be consistently one of the worst days of the year, but there’s still nothing quite like the rush of endorphins you get from beating that deadline at the last minute, or the un-earned pride in having fulfilled the bare-minimum societal obligations of adulthood. If you’ve always filed months in advance, you simply haven’t lived!

The concept of taxes as a necessary evil has encountered a lot of pushback from thinkers and taste-makers (well, the “necessary” part, at least). For your fits of sweaty procrastination between tabulations, below are a cache of quotations steeped in bitter humor about our annual collective misery. And remember, you could always just file for an extension and go play outside.

Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, 1966
“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.”

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, 1936
“Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.”

H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy, 1949
“The intelligent man, when he pays taxes, certainly does not believe that he is making a prudent and productive investment of his money; on the contrary, he feels that he is being mulcted in an excessive amount for services that, in the main, are useless to him, and that, in substantial part, are downright inimical to him.”

Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man, 1991
“He said that there was death and taxes, and taxes was worse, because at least death didn’t happen to you every year.”

Sarah Caudwell, Thus Was Adonis Murdered, 1981
“Julia’s unhappy relationship with the Inland Revenue was due to her omission, during four years of modestly successful practice at the Bar, to pay any income tax. The truth is, I think, that she did not, in her heart of hearts, really believe in income tax. It was a subject which she had studied for examinations and on which she had thereafter advised a number of clients: she naturally did not suppose, in these circumstances, that it had anything to do with real life.”

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776
“There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1981
“He’s spending a year dead for tax reasons.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter, 1940
“Feller come along and taxed me last summer. Told me I got to put in every last thing I had. So I put in Tom and Jerry, my horses, at fifty dollars apiece, and my oxen yoke, Buck and Bright, I put in at fifty, and my cow at thirty five.
‘Is that all you got?’ he says. Well I told him I’d put in five children I reckoned was worth a dollar apiece.
‘Is that all?’ he says. ‘How about your wife?’ he says.
‘By Mighty!’ I says to him. ‘She says I don’t own her and I don’t aim to pay no taxes on her,’ I says. And I didn’t.”

Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden, 2006
“All things built with tax money are beautiful: so we must think or go mad.”