“I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization,” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr said. But most people would rather, as Charles Schulz had Snoopy do, write “Dear IRS, Please cancel my subscription.”
Taxes are old and famously unavoidable (yes, like death). They were collected in ancient Egypt, in ancient Greece, and very effectively during the Roman Empire. (Those Caesar guys were innovative, inventing the inheritance tax among much else.) Hey, St. Matthew was a tax collector–in order to support his writing! The taxes that US citizens pay now–not just Mitt Romney but even those who pay at the top rate, like Warren Buffett’s secretary–would sound pleasant to robber barons like Rockefeller or J.P. Morgan, whose rates were far higher. Wars have been waged over (and with) taxes throughout history, all around the globe. America was pretty much created over a tax beef with Britain, and the memorable “taxation without representation” claim still pushes buttons, especially in Washington, DC, where it graces the license plates. But for most people, that’s no longer the issue. As the mysterious humorist Gerald Barzan says: “Taxation with representation ain’t so hot either.” But since you have to pay anyway and since you’re reading this online, it may help to keep in mind that the government devised the Internet thanks to your generous annual contribution. Tax deadline: April 15.