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accountants portrayed in popular culture

death from overwork

accountants' glamorous world

history of accounting
"Sarbanes-Oxley Blues," words and music written by Headwaters Co-Founder & Chairman Dave Maney

evil taxers

U.S. tax history

IRS history

Al Capone, FDR, LBJ, MLK, Watergate

Sex of a Hippopotamus

Tax Court

tax return publicity

famous wealthy people



Irving Berlin's Tax Song

Prior to World War II, the income tax only affected the elite. The exemptions were generous, thus sparing the majority of the population from its reach. In order to win public acceptance of a the war emergency income tax that affected the masses the government enlisted the entertainment industry.

At Treasury Secretary Henry Morganthauís request, Irving Berlin wrote a flag-waving propaganda song, ďI Paid My Income Tax Today,Ē which was announced at the end of January 1942. It complimented ďAny Bonds Today,Ē Berlinís 1941 patriotic song popularized by the Andrew Sisters. Treasury sent copies of the recording to radio stations throughout the country for broadcast. Naturally, the song didnít become a hit. Today, itís one the rarest of Berlinís sheet music with equally rare Decca and Victor 78 RPM recordings. Berlin had difficulty writing the lyrics. The Decca version begins:
I paid my income tax today.
Iím only one of millions more
Whose income never was taxed before.
A tax Iím very glad to pay.
<BGSOUND balance="0" src="../media/berlin.wav" volume="0">

If your PC is missing the plugin, click here to listen to this snippet by Dick Robertson and His Orchestra; Vocal chorus by Dick Robertson and The American Four Fox Trot (Decca 4151).

Holographs for the song at the Library of Congress show the third line originally read, ďWhoíve never paid a tax before,Ē which is too taunting to be patriotic. ďA tax Iím very glad to pay,Ē was crossed out in his draft, then reinserted.

Later versions of the song recorded by Barry Wood and a vocal quartet (Victor 27760) and another by Danny Kaye sing this verse as:

I paid my income tax today.
I never felt so proud before
To be right there with the millions more,
Who paid their income tax today.
The Treasury press release and sheet music are available at the National Archives.

Walt Disney got into the taxing spirit by producing a 1942 propaganda cartoon, The New Spirit. It promoted timely filing and payment of federal income taxes, demonstrated by Donald Duck's patriotic filing of his tax return. Disney produced a sequel, The Spirit of '43 with Donald Duck again promoting acceptance of higher taxes as a patriotic duty, with the slogans: "Taxes to bury the Axis." "Spend for the Axis or save for taxes?" "Taxes will keep democracy on the march."

Read more in Jay's article, 89 million unnecessary returns, and in his book:
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