The List: Top 10 Songs for Tax Day

Johnny Cash sang the 1978 song "After Taxes." (Associated Press)Johnny Cash sang the 1978 song “After Taxes.” (Associated Press)
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The only certainty in life is death and taxes, and April 15 is Tax Day in America. If you’re late to fill out those dreaded income tax forms, here are the best songs to listen to.

  • 10. “Ball of Confusion” by The Temptations — In this 1970 hit by the Temptations, the lyrics list a multitude of problems that were tearing apart the United States in 1970, including high taxes. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart.

    “Politicians say more taxes will, Solve everything,”
  • 9. “Tired”  by Willie Nelson — This song appeared on Willie Nelson’s 1992 album, “Who Will Buy My Memories?” which was released to pay Mr. Nelson’s tax debt with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In 1990 the IRS seized Mr. Nelson’s assets claiming that he owed $32 million. The album generated $3.6 million for the IRS which asked for $9 million more.

    “Only missed six days and nights of twenty years of working,  Money went to taxes and these bills I’ve paid on time … Selling my body for these nickels and these dimes …”
  • 8. “Moving Out” by Billy Joel — In this 1977 song, Billy Joel questioned the upwardly-mobile bourgeois aspirations of working and lower-middle class New Yorkers who take pride at working long hours in order to afford the outward signs of having “made it.” Mr. Joel suggests that the more work you do, the more you give the taxman, and is it worth it?

    “You ought-a know by now, You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime, Is that all you get for your money …”
  • 7. “Me and the IRS” by Johnny Paycheck — The Grand Ole Opry member Johnny Paycheck, most famous for recording “Take This Job and Shove It,” had no love for the IRS and considered himself an outlaw. This 1978 song appeared on the B-Side of “Georgia In A Jug.” Following a period in prison for shooting a man, Paycheck, filed for bankruptcy after problems with the IRS in 1990. He died broke in 2003.

    “Well the bite keeps gettin’ bigger, And the paycheck keeps gettin’ small, You know the IRS, they ain’t gonna rest, Til they think they’ve got it all …”
  • 6. “Taxman, Mr Thief” by Cheap Trick — Best known for their 1979 hit “I Want You to Want Me” and “Flame,” Cheap Trick penned this Beatle-esque attack on the taxman, a song that featured on their self-titled debut album in 1977. Cheap Trick were an American band, and not subject to British taxes, yet they refer to Prime Minister Edward Heath in their song, as did the Beatles in “Taxman.”

    “You work hard, you went hungry, Now the taxman is out to get you … Like the Beatle, even Dylan, Now the taxman is out to get you …”
  • 5. “I Paid My Income Tax Today” by Danny Kaye — If you are inclined to enjoy filling out your tax form and consider it patriotic, here’s a pro-tax song for you, written by Irving Berlin to support the war effort in 1942. The tax rate for the medium income just before the war in 1938 was 4 percent and the top rate was 79 percent. Today’s tax rate for the medium income in 14 percent and top rate is 39 percent. The Treasury Department commissioned Berlin to write the song, and the IRS owns the copyright to it. Danny Kaye recorded the song, but it never became a hit.

    “I paid my income tax today. I never felt so proud before, To be right there with the millions more, I’m squared up with the U.S.A. … I never cared what Congress spent, But now I’ll watch over ev’ry cent, Examine ev’ry bill they pay …”
  • 4. “After Taxes” by Johnny Cash — In this 1978 song, Johnny Cash laments that when he looks inside his paycheck, he loses all hope. He can’t buy his sweetheart a new bracelet, or a new fence for his farm, because the tax man had taken a huge chunk out of his paycheck. The song was written by Jerry Leiber and Billy Edd Wheeler and appeared on Cash’s “I Would Like To See You Again” album.

    “Don’t you know, but then they hand me, That little brown envelope I peep inside, Lord I lose all hope, ‘Cause from those total wages earned, Down to that net amount that’s due, I feel the painful sense of loss between the two …”
  • 3. “Success Story” by The Who — The Who’s bass player John Entwistle wrote this song complaining about high taxes in 1975.  After his death in 2002, Entwistle’s mansion in Cotswolds and a number of his personal effects were later sold off to meet the demands of the Inland Revenue; coincidentally, Entwistle worked for the agency in 1962-63, prior to joining The Who.

    “I’ve gotta play some one-night stands, Six for the tax man and one for the band.”
  • 2. “Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks— Written by The Kinks lead singer Ray Davies, this song referenced the high levels of progressive tax taken by the British Labour government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1960s. Released in 1966, the song reached the No. 1 spot in the U.K. and No. 14 on the pop charts in America.

    “The tax man’s taken all my dough, And left me in my stately home, Lazing on a sunny afternoon …”
  • 1. “Taxman” by The Beatles — George Harrison wrote the greatest tax protest songs of all time. The song appeared on the “Revolver” album. In the mid-1960s, the top British income tax rate was 91.5 percent on incomes above 115,000 pounds. By contrast, the top U.S. rate was just 70 percent at that time, thanks to the Kennedy tax cut. The Beatles were paying about 90 percent of all the money (“There’s one for you, 19 for me”) they made in their early years to the British Treasury.

    “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street, If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat, If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat, If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet …”

Compiled by John Haydon
Source: The Washington Times, Wikipedia, USNews.com

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