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)

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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

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22 Comments on "Top 8 tax protest songs of all time"

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April 15, 2009 11:16 am

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

September 23, 2010 5:29 am

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.

April 16, 2009 4:18 am

How about “1040 Blues” by Robert Cray.

January 30, 2013 10:54 am

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 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… Read more »


[…] protest songs are featured on dating back to the 1930’s. Here is their #1 pick – The Beatles […]

September 16, 2010 7:35 am

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.

October 1, 2010 6:07 pm

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.

January 30, 2013 9:06 am

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 9:18 am

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

January 30, 2013 9:22 am

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 9:28 am

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.

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

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. 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… Read more »

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

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;] 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… Read more »

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

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… Read more »

January 30, 2013 8:51 am

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 :)