Top 8 tax protest songs of all time

by editor on April 15, 2009

Love may have inspired more songs than any other subject, but the subject of taxes inspires tax songs that are just as heartfelt. Singers and songwriters seem to be just like the rest of us – you work hard, you do the best you can, and pow! The better you do, the deeper the IRS digs into your pocket.

Tax Protest!

Here are our favorite tax songs. Or at least our favorite ones with video or audio tracks.

(If you have other favorites, let us know. We may add them to the list.)

#8: Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks

Seems to be a common theme among ‘60s rock groups (see song #1). No wonder. Britain’s tax code was even more confiscatory then than it is now.

#7: After Taxes – Johnny Cash

America’s favorite troubadour enjoyed a good, stiff drink a lot more than he enjoyed a good, stiff tax.

#6: Sales Tax – Mississippi Sheiks (audio only)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This is an audio track from the 1930s in which a great old blues band talks and sings about their reaction to the sales tax.

#5: I Paid My Income Tax Today – Danny Kaye

Here’s a segment of Danny Kaye singing an Irving Berlin song from World War II. Unfortunately, Dr. Demento cuts the song off before it gets to the third refrain. We only hear the part about it being patriotic to pay your taxes (thank you, Harry Reid), but not the part that tells the government to be careful about how they spend it. Here are the missing lyrics:

[3rd REFRAIN with coda:]
I paid my income tax today
I never cared what Congress spent
But now I’ll watch over ev’ry cent
Examine ev’ry bill they pay
They’ll have to let me have my say
I wrote the Treasury to go slow
Careful, Mister Henry Junior, that’s my dough
I paid my income tax
Now you’ve got all the facts
I know you’ll pay your taxes too

#4: Life After Death and Taxes – Relient K

Relient K is a Christian group. The song is about faith, but the great thing about art is that its interpretation is open to the viewer. In our interpretation, this song is about Tim Geithner, Tom Daschle, Hilda Solis and Kathleen Sebelius and the fact that they’ve been forgiven for the tax sins.

Please don’t strike us with lightning, God.

#3: Me and the IRS – Johnny Paycheck

As Johnny Paycheck says at the beginning of this video, “Let’s stick it to the IRS.” Forget what we said above. There’s only one way to interpret this song. Tax protest.

#2: Taxman, Mr. Thief – CheapTrick

Interesting thing about this song is that it’s actually a tribute to the Beatles song “Taxman” (see #1). The Beatles mentioned Prime Minister Edward Heath in their song “Taxman” and Cheap Trick refers to him in their song, despite the fact that all the members of the group were American and not impacted by Britain’s tax system.

#1: Taxman – Beatles

“‘Taxman’ was (written) when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes,” George Harrison said. “It was and still is typical.”

“George wrote that and I played guitar on it,” Paul McCartney added. “He wrote it in anger at finding out what the taxman did. He had never known before then what he’ll do with your money.”

Bonus Track: Tax Free (instrumental) – Jimi Hendrix

Bonus Track #2: Goin’ to the CPA – a parody by B. Hopman and R. Hopman

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

oc madam April 15, 2009 at 11:16 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Didn’t willie nelson have a tax song????

danybhoy September 23, 2010 at 5:29 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Actually, Willie was targeted by the IRS who said he owed $32million in back taxes. What actually happened was that his accountants Price Waterhouse were not paying his taxes over a period of years. They settled & his debts were taken care of. So his tax issues were not exactly his fault.

DH April 16, 2009 at 4:18 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

How about “1040 Blues” by Robert Cray.

danybhoy January 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Ray Stevens If Ten Percent Is Good Enough For Jesus( It Oughta Be Enough For Uncle Sam) Lyrics

More Lyrics
If Ten Percent Is Good Enough For Jesus( It Oughta Be Enough For Uncle Sam) by Ray Stevens

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQc_WPUCE-o

Now I’d just like to say a few words about taxes

I pay another man to do my taxes
On account of that’s just one more deduction I can take
But you know the mailman brought my W-2 this morning
Yeah and this year they’re taking a third of all I make.

Now I’m just as patriotic as the next man
And you know I love that Red White and Blue
So I’m gonna help to pay this rising cost of freedom
But I’ll be danged if I’m gonna change my point of view.

Cuz every time the bureaucrats run out of money
Congress socks it to the working man
And I don’t think it’s one bit funny
How they take so much of my money
And do things with it I don’t understand.

I don’t know why they think they’ve got to squeeze us
But I’ll tell you just exactly where I stand
I believe if ten percent is good enough for Jesus
Well it oughta be enough for Uncle Sam.

Now some of these folks that we’ve been sending off to Congress
Think that all they’ve got to do – just spend and spend, huh
But you know you can’t run a family much less a country
With more money going out than coming in.

Yeah and that old debt just keeps on getting bigger
And we all gonna have to pay so don’t you laugh
Cuz pretty soon we might just look down at our paychecks
And figure out that they done started taking HALF!

Cuz every time the bureaucrats run out of money
Congress socks it to the working man
And I don’t think it’s one bit funny
How they take so much of my money
And do things with it I don’t understand.

I don’t know why they think they’ve got to squeeze us
But I’ll tell you just exactly where I stand
I believe if ten percent is good enough for Jesus
Well it oughta be enough for Uncle Sam.

I said if ten percent is good enough for Jesus
Well it oughta be enough
You know times’re getting tough
And it oughta be enough for Uncle Sam.

john September 16, 2010 at 7:35 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Since most of your taxes in the US go to support the military (that is, most of your income tax), I assume you’ll demand huge cuts in the Defense budget.

Oh, wait… that’s right, you’re right-wingers, so you’re actually hypocritical and lacking in basic logic skills. Nevermind.

danybhoy October 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

John, paying for the military IS something the constitution REQUIRES. Unlike crap like Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. You might want to read the constitution, & since it’s not too hard to understand, you will see that the gov’t does’nt do the sh!t it’s supposed to do very well because they it’s their job to do everything it’s not supposed to do, but is trying to do anyway.

No, I would’nt cut the military, but the education, commerce, agriculture, energy departments would go away. Plus other crap, like foreign aid to nations who hate us, & of course, the United Nations would not only be cut off finacially, their headquarters would be expelled from our shores. Get rid of it, once & for all, we don’t need to fund a safe haven for thugs, dictators, & despots.

jcrowley1985 January 30, 2013 at 9:06 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Except that our military doesn’t even serve our own country anymore. It has become a global police force that serves foreign governments who have hijacked Congress.

IE: Ron Paul was right.

Not so silent January 30, 2013 at 9:18 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Oooohh you stopped spending your welfare money to come back and visit….TD MO Moron

jcrowley1985 January 30, 2013 at 9:22 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Considering I am unable to spend Food Stamps on non-food items, I’ve never had welfare money to spend.

Try doing a little research.

And like I said above, if you’re concerned about reckless spending then maybe do something about how our government has been hijacked by other foreign interests who are robbing billions in aid from us.

Not so silent January 30, 2013 at 9:28 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

All you doing is making a larger ass of yourself, read the editors post, there is plain facts, common sense and a strong argument, something you can not handle. And the editor is right, “you know nothing”…just the same insane bullshit you always spout…..Why don’t you go outside and feed the sheep or whatever the hell you have on your “farm”…..leave the critical thinking to people who don’t ride Ron Paul’s leg. Oh and TD MO Moron.

editor September 16, 2010 at 7:57 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

You obviously know nothing about the United States budget. For your edification, here’s a breakdown. As it clearly shows, not only is defense spending NOT “most of our taxes,” it isn’t even the largest line item in our budget.

Whatever country you come from (we assume it’s England, Australia or some other English-speaking country), our hard-earned tax dollars made sure you didn’t have to speak Japanese, German or Russian in the last century and will make sure you don’t have to speak Chinese or Arabic for a few more years in this century. The fact that we spend what we do on defense allows your country to piss away its money on social programs while we take care of the hard work.

Here are the 2010 budget numbers:

Mandatory spending: $2.184 trillion (+15.6%)
$677.95 billion (+4.9%) – Social Security
$571 billion (−15.2%) – Other mandatory programs
$453 billion (+6.6%) – Medicare
$290 billion (+12.0%) – Medicaid
$164 billion (+18.0%) – Interest on National Debt
$11 billion (+275%) – Potential disaster costs
$0 billion (−100%) – Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
$0 billion (−100%) – Financial stabilization efforts

Discretionary spending: $1.368 trillion (+13.1%)
$663.7 billion (+12.7%) – Department of Defense (including Overseas Contingency Operations)
$78.7 billion (−1.7%) – Department of Health and Human Services
$72.5 billion (+2.8%) – Department of Transportation
$52.5 billion (+10.3%) – Department of Veterans Affairs
$51.7 billion (+40.9%) – Department of State and Other International Programs
$47.5 billion (+18.5%) – Department of Housing and Urban Development
$46.7 billion (+12.8%) – Department of Education
$42.7 billion (+1.2%) – Department of Homeland Security
$26.3 billion (−0.4%) – Department of Energy
$26.0 billion (+8.8%) – Department of Agriculture
$23.9 billion (−6.3%) – Department of Justice
$18.7 billion (+5.1%) – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
$13.8 billion (+48.4%) – Department of Commerce
$13.3 billion (+4.7%) – Department of Labor
$13.3 billion (+4.7%) – Department of the Treasury
$12.0 billion (+6.2%) – Department of the Interior
$10.5 billion (+34.6%) – Environmental Protection Agency
$9.7 billion (+10.2%) – Social Security Administration
$7.0 billion (+1.4%) – National Science Foundation
$5.1 billion (−3.8%) – Corps of Engineers
$5.0 billion (+100%) – National Infrastructure Bank
$1.1 billion (+22.2%) – Corporation for National and Community Service
$0.7 billion (0.0%) – Small Business Administration
$0.6 billion (−14.3%) – General Services Administration
$19.8 billion (+3.7%) – Other Agencies
$105 billion – Other

GoddessMel June 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

“Whatever country you come from (we assume it’s England, Australia or some other English-speaking country), our hard-earned tax dollars made sure you didn’t have to speak Japanese, German or Russian in the last century and will make sure you don’t have to speak Chinese or Arabic for a few more years in this century. The fact that we spend what we do on defense allows your country to piss away its money on social programs while we take care of the hard work.”

Are you kidding me??!! I’m pretty sure you’ll find the efforts of Australian (and many other countries’) Defence Force men and women has contributed significantly – and in many case pre-empted – the US’s ‘hard work’ in numerous conflicts, not least of which being WWII which the US didn’t even enter until the final years, long after plenty of Aussies had been slaughtered on the battlefield and Darwin had the crap bombed out of it.

I agree that defence/defense spending is a necessary use of our taxes (I have family and friends in the military and I support their work), but if you’re going to talk about how much of your taxes are spent on Defence/Defense then stick to that and don’t go bagging your allies in an effort to make yourself feel better about it. It doesn’t add anything to your argument and just pisses people off… And for your information my country spends plenty on defence and nowhere near enough on ‘social programs’ – frankly I’m glad I live in a country where access to medical care is available to those who need it regardless of insurance or income and education is still a right and not a privilege.

editor June 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Mel: Are you an Aussie? If so, in what part of the Lucky Country do you live?

jcrowley1985 January 30, 2013 at 9:36 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Ok, take the two largest items in that list; Social Security $677.95 billion and Department of Defense at $663.7 billion. Both are about the same BUT defense spending has increased by about THREE TIMES that Social security has in the past year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it IS the biggest item in the next couple years at the rate that other countries hijack and abuse our military for their own private police force.

Not to mention that the interest on the National Debt is up 18% this year. This is clearly Corporate Greed’s fault to milk us dry of the nation’s wealth; the main reason why they wanted the currency debased back in 1964.

Not so silent January 30, 2013 at 9:37 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Did mom help you write this? Or is it from the Ron Paul website?

jcrowley1985 January 30, 2013 at 9:42 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Neither, just stating the obvious.

Not so silent January 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

TD and MO again and again and again……

Save the Limo Drivers September 23, 2010 at 3:33 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Limo Divers Protest Medicare Mediciad Reform Cuts, It’s rumored this issue could become part of the Tea Party movement. AmeriChoice Health also rumored to take a position on this issue. Recirculate those tax dollars? Help keep limo drivers working, benefits flowing and overpaid tax dollars remain in abuse.

Medicare.gov as well as other Federal agency’s encourage you to report any fraudulent activities, yet, the same government agency’s were notified the way this company does business yet did nothing. Three years ago they were reported to these Federal agency’s and as of todays date not only were they allowed to continue doing business but were never charged once. Protected vendor status sure, politics sure, limited government budgets sure, Federal and State officals looking the other way sure, and rather then stop these activities a strong desire not to rock the boat previals. Even with the vast changes in the laws, budgets,a hands off policy remains, you tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

The Government created this monster and now they don’t know what to do about it, like shooting yourself in your own foot etc. Tons of money to advance their national growth, it’s market positions, tons of money for political donations, tons of money to send 75 millIon back to its home office from New York state alone, tons of money to suppot National TV shows, tons of money to pay hugh State fines, tons of money to hire the very best law firms, tons of money to pay for bribes and kickbacks, tons of money for hugh salary’s and bonuses, all done on the back of the American tax payor, you see this company receives all it’s money from the Federal government. Should your tax dollars be held to a higher standard? Should our government agency’s responsible for there review and be held to that same standard? Should the IRS audit their corruption? Why has this company not been charged? How long can the buck be passed here in more ways then one?

Hey, it’s your tax dollars don’t complain now.. then don’t complain later on…

ps… I know times are tough for a lot us, but it would be great to have a free limo to go to the Doctors, Pharmacy, Movies, Grocery shopping, and given free tickets for the movies. Offered soda, pop corn and hotdogs, as well as have them receive free coupons for Grocery items…Kind of makes you wish qualified for Medicare and Mediciad right?

For three years now, a woman has left her home in Poughkeepsie, New York, five days a week and taken a taxi to visit her child at St. Margaret’s Center, a nursing home for disabled children in Albany, New York. Each night, she rides home by taxi. That costs $300 a day. What dedication by taxpayers. That is right. Taxpayers have shelled out $196,000 over the past three years so that she can make this Poughkeepsie-Albany commute each day. Incredibly, state health officials defended this daily abuse of taxpayers. Could not the woman move to Albany? It would have been cheaper to buy her a Cadillac Escalade and have her drive herself. But under Medicaid’s incomprehensibly illogical rules, taxpayers had to give this woman a whopping $65,000 subsidy. We underpay doctors by 20% or more. But one — likely two — cab drivers have a gravy train going there. For New York state, the bill comes to $98,000 — with federal taxpayers shelling out another $98,000.

Oh and this happens all over the place. Ambulances in Southern West Virginia became taxis as they shuttled people off to the drug store and the like — and then billed Medicaid. New York state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said the $196,000 taxi drive was part of at least $169 million in misspent funds. “We found the state Medicaid system is leaking millions of dollars,” DiNapoli told the Albany Times-Union. “Safeguards designed to protect the taxpayers by detecting waste, fraud and abuse keep failing.” Taxpayers finance $196,000 ride By CATHLEEN F. CROWLEY Staff Writer Published: 01:00 a.m., Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who loves you Baby September 24, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Full Name: Wayne Berman Title: Vice-Chair; Finance Co-Chair; Adviser
Over the course of three years, Berman’s lobbying firm was paid $660,000 to lobby on behalf of UnitedHealth subsidiary Americhoice, a managed care HMO providing health insurance to Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP recipients. Specifically, according to the lobbying report, they lobbied on Medicaid issues in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. [Americhoice Lobbying Reports 2004 – 2007; Americhoice.com]

Berman Also Lobbied For “Absurdly Low” Rates for Medicaid Managed Care Companies to Pay Out of Network Hospitals. Also included in the DRA, and mentioned as a lobbying issue on Berman’s Americhoice lobbying report, was a provision setting rates managed care companies must pay to out-of-network providers — mainly hospital emergency rooms — for care received by Medicaid beneficiaries. Rather than forcing managed care companies to reimburse out-of-network hospitals an amount comparable to network providers, the legislation set the default amount to the state’s “fee-for-service rate,” which often is “absurdly low.” The provision thereby shifted financial responsibility for services to Medicaid beneficiaries from the managed care companies to the hospitals themselves, permitting managed care companies to rake in huge profits, while hospitals incurred added losses. [Modern Healthcare, 1/29/07; Text of S. 1932]

To Save Money, Bill Cut Services to Medicaid Beneficiaries, But Left Managed Care Providers Untouched. Under the final budget package, substantial Medicaid spending cuts were achieved by imposing new premiums and increased co-payments on Medicaid beneficiaries; some costs were also shifted to the states, who in return were awarded new powers to drop coverage or reduce benefits to certain beneficiaries. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the AARP CEO decried the final bill, saying it “protects the pharmaceutical industry, the managed-care industry and other providers at the expense of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries.” [Inside CMS, 12/29/05; Los Angeles Times, 12/22/05; World Markets Analysis, 12/21/05; The Hill, 12/20/05]

Born in the USA October 18, 2010 at 3:51 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Election Year Medicaid Medicare Inducement issues left open for November not openly discussed.
Judicial dilemmas, since all are offically allowed to bear arms again the big city Mayors are concerned about how the poor will be able to rearm themselves and are looking for some type of financial relief from Federal State Medicaid programs to maintain status quo.The higher courts face tough issues this term since making honest fraud legal, there agenda now turns toward making honest kickbacks and honest bribes equally as legal. This topic remains high as a shared issue by the medicaid medicare enrollment providers since they are looking to expand inducements past the complicated pregnancy stage.The DOJ has serious concerns that if legalized marijuana in California for medical reasons could be used as a inducement or inticement to help secure new enrollments for the Federal State Medicare Medicaid programs.The State of California is concerned that if the Feds step up their effort in killing off the marijuana crops it could cause higher tax problems that effect Medicaid currently under consideration by the State marijuana tax control board. Limo drivers cancel their planned DC rally and leave for California to protect this years crop. Wow, don’t think I would like to be in Politics for this years elections.

AnnaBanana January 30, 2013 at 8:51 am

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Wow, I was searching for Taxman by the Beatles and came across this article. It sure generated a lot of discussion. As a Canadian temporarily residing in Europe, I think our tax dollars are generally well spent so I don’t mind paying them.

I recently heard one of my favorite artists Frank de Boer do a very interesting take on the tax song from the perspective of Jack from the beanstalk story :)

{ 1 trackback }