Watch CBS News

Notable And Quotable - History's Most Quoted Sound Off On Taxes

So much has been said about taxes over the years, most of it negative. After all, who really likes taxes, necessary as they are? Everyone has an opinion, which usually boils down to the following: taxes are no fun. It's kind of telling that the most famous quote on the subject ("The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.") pairs it with death. Let's take a closer look at a few more quotes from some of history's most-quoted people, on a topic we don't usually associate with them.

Albert Einstein:

(on filing for tax returns) "This is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher."

The man who came up with the theory of relativity (E=mc2), whose name is synonymous with intelligence, struggled with filling out his taxes. So you shouldn't feel too bad when asking for help. I can align with Albert on this one, as I went for assistance preparing my taxes, and my helper pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil to do a little math. Needless to say, that worried me a bit.

Mark Twain:

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

Mark Twain made his living through words. And like many people, he often felt that the government had its hand deep in his pocket. The tax man will take every last thing from you, at least the taxidermist leaves the outer layer for people to admire. Always the eminent humorist, Twain takes a shot at the tax man, who, I hope, in this case, is metaphorical. Arming the IRS with knives would make for some interesting audits.

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors - Game Six
(Photo Credit: AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Barry Goldwater:

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

I'm not sure if I've ever cheated on my taxes, since I don't really know what cheating on my taxes would entail. I'm allowed to write off my rent every month as a business expense, right? What about all those boxes of Twinkies that sustain me in my writerly pursuits? All kidding aside, Senator Barry Goldwater is implying that more people cheat on their taxes than commit any other crime. And since he has a really good politician name, and since I've lived with two different people who have never filed taxes, I am inclined to agree with him.

Benjamin Franklin:

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

It's nice to see that our nation is upholding the ideals of our founding fathers. Last time I checked, 10% would undershoot what I spend every two weeks (by a few percentage points). Taxes — then and now — pay for a lot of things we take for granted. So perhaps there was a reason Franklin was never president. Maybe his 9% tax plan didn't include police officers or public schools or anything.

Given these quotes, I bet that more people prefer death to taxes, especially teenage boys playing Call of Duty who have never paid taxes. At least it's a close race between the two.

Everyone ever has wanted smaller taxes, but everyone may not want to lose all the things those taxes pay for. I tend to agree with Einstein, and the others, on this one. Taxes can be super complicated. They cut into your earnings, turning those who avoid the inevitable into criminals. But in the end, taxes pay for the society we live in.

Here's hoping you don't get audited!

Visit the Lighter Side of Taxes at CBS Local.

Kyle Ayers is a writer for CBS Local and, as well as a stand up comedian living in New York, Earth. Follow Kyle on Twitter @kyleayers.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.