Presidential Tax Quotes

February 20, 2012 |

Happy Presidents Day! Taxes are as old as this country. Here are what some of our U.S. Presidents, Founding Fathers, and presidential hopefuls have had to say over the years (some more profound than others)…

George Washington – Founding Father & U.S. President (1789 – 1797)

“…it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.”

Thomas Jefferson – Founding Father & U.S. President (1797 – 1801)

“The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public monies.”

Thomas Jefferson Tax Quote“The purse of the people is the real seat of sensibility. Let it be drawn upon largely, and they will then listen to truths which could not excite them through any other organ.”

“This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering… And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

James Madison – Founding Father & U.S. President (1809 – 1817)

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents…”

“The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government.”

Benjamin Franklin – Founding Father

“In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

Benjamin Franklin Tax Quote“It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income.”

“Friends and neighbors complain that taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the 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.”

John Marshall – Founding Father & 4th U.S. Chief Justice

“The power to tax is the power to destroy.”

Samuel Adams – Founding Father

“If taxes are laid upon us without our having a legal representation where they are laid, we are reduced from the character of free subjects to the state of tributary slaves.”

William McKinley – U.S. President (1897 – 1901)

I am a tariff man, standing on a tariff platform.

Thomas Paine – Founding Father

Thomas Paine“What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.”

“If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute.”

Calvin Coolidge – U.S. President (1923 – 1929)

“Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt – U.S. President (1933 – 1945)

“Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.”

“Taxes are paid in the sweat of every man who labors.”

Jimmy Carter – U.S. President (1977 – 1981)

“The federal income tax system is a disgrace to the human race.”

Ronald Reagan – U.S. President (1981 – 1989)

ronald reagan tax quote“The taxpayer – that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.”

“We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”

“The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

George H. W. Bush – U.S. President (1989 – 1993)

“Read my lips: No new taxes.”

George W. Bush – U.S. President (2001 – 2009)

“Let me tell you my thoughts about tax relief. When your economy is kind of ooching along, it’s important to let people have more of their own money.”

“I firmly believe the death tax is good for people from all walks of life all throughout our society.”

Barack Obama – U.S. President (2008 – Incumbent)

In reference to the aforementioned George Washington quote:

“…But he understood that dealing with the debt is — his choice of words — ‘always a choice of difficulties.’ He also knew that public servants weren’t elected to do what is easy; they weren’t elected to do what was politically advantageous. It’s our responsibility to put country before party. It’s our responsibility to do what’s right for the future. And that’s what this debate is about.”

J. Danforth Quayle – U.S. Vice President (1989 – 1993)

“Our party has been accused of fooling the public by calling tax increases ‘revenue enhancement’. Not so. No one was fooled.”

Robert “Bob” Dole – Presidential Candidate (1996)

“The principle involved here is time-honored and true: and that is it’s your money.”

“The purpose of a tax cut is to leave more money where it belongs: in the hands of the working men and working women who earned it in the first place.”

Steve Forbes – Presidential Candidate (1996 & 2000)

“The politicians say ‘we’ can’t afford a tax cut.  Maybe we can’t afford the politicians.”

“The flat tax would be so simple, you could fill it out on a post card.  A post card that would say, in effect, having a wonderful time; glad most of my money is here.”