Danny Kaye’s Musical Tribute to the Income Tax

One of the best illustrations of Randolph Bourne’s dictum that “War is the Health of the State” was the rise of the modern income tax during World War II. Before 1942, the tax covered only a small well-off minority. As the federal government lowered the brackets and raised the rates during the war, however, the old “class tax” became a “mass tax.”

The introduction of withholding was the primary means to accomplish this goal. The Office of War Information promoted payment of the tax as not only a patriotic duty but as a positive joy.

It also commissioned Irving Berlin to write “I Paid My Income Tax Today.” Here is an audio of the song as joyfully belted out by comedian and actor Danny Kaye. The lyrics are here if you want to sing along:

[Verse:]
I said to my Uncle Sam
Old Man Taxes, here I am
And he
Was glad to see me
Mister Small Fry, yes, indeed
Lower brackets, that’s my speed
But he
Was glad to see me

[1st refrain:]
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
I’m squared up with the U.S.A.
See those bombers in the sky?
Rockefeller helped to build ’em, so did I
I paid my income tax today

[2nd refrain:]
I paid my income tax today
A thousand planes to bomb Berlin
They’ll all be paid for and I chipped in
That certainly makes me feel okay
Ten thousand more and that ain’t hay
We must pay for this war somehow
Uncle Sam was worried but he isn’t now
I paid my income tax today

[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

David Beito is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and co-editor of the Independent book, The Voluntary City.
Posts by David Beito | Full Biography and Publications
Comments
  • Catalyst
  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org