What they're saying about taxes, benefits and civic responsibility


Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (19th century)


It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenues, but something more than in proportion.

  • Adam Smith (1776)


All accumulation…of personal property, beyond what a man’s  own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.

  • Tom Paine (1796)


I’m cool with that.

  • Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, Facebook, commenting on a proposal that  the wealthy pay higher taxes (April 20, 2011 You Tube town hall meeting with President Obama)


For the vast majority of Canada’s population, public services are, to put it bluntly, the best deal they are ever going to get.


Raise my taxes. And raise them now. I have been vocal supporter of President-elect Obama, knowing full well that he intended to raise my taxes…For the past eight years, the wealthy have benefited from both the reduced taxes and failure to regulate that made so many fortunes balloon while bringing disaster to our economy. The poor and the middle class now are disproportionately suffering the effects. The rich now should pay disproportionately for the corrections that are needed.


Thank god, yes [I'm rich] because I grew up poor...You know what? As a rich person, I pay 28% tax. What I want to ask you is why am I not paying 50%? Why isn't anybody in my bracket paying 50%?


Why shouldn't the American people take half of my money from me? I took it all from them.

  • Edward Filene (1860-1937), department store owner, entrepreneur, philanthropist, credit union pioneer


Complaining about tax rates is de rigueur in the business pages of this and other newspapers these days, especially corporate rates…The [huge tax] cheque I just signed, the ones I write each month…help build and maintain the roads, highways and other infrastructure that Canadian products are shipped on. They help pay for the bridges these products cross to make it to the factory or to market. They help pay for our seaports, airports and other public facilities that we need for Canadian businesses to be successful…We should praise the public sector and the tax dollars that support it, not bury it.


And that [list of 100 tax-supported services] was just a taste, a smattering of what Canadians do and have done for them, the stuff that makes you want to kiss the sweet Pearson [airport] tarmac when you get home from the bloody dust of Afghanistan and never leave…We pay our taxes and in return, they oil the gears of daily life.

  • Heather Mallick, Toronto Star column, April 16, 2011


The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.

  • Billionaire Warren Buffett speaking at a $4,600-a-seat fundraiser in New York for Senator Hillary Clinton, June 2007.


Dear Mr. President...We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.We have done very well over the last several years. Now, during our nation’s moment of need, we are eager to do our fair share. We don’t need more tax cuts, and we understand that cutting our taxes will increase the deficit and the debt burden carried by other taxpayers. The country needs to meet its financial obligations in a just and responsible way.


I pay more taxes than anyone and I'm glad to pay more.

  • Bill Gates, interview on Fox Business News, May 4, 2011


The estate tax is a commonwealth recycling program. It's an appropriate levy to pay back the common wealth that helped create the [estate] wealth in the first place.

  • Bill Gates, Sr.

I don’t believe that any taxes are good taxes.

  • Stephen Harper, interview with the Globe and Mail, July 10, 2009