A Tax Day Message from Irving Berlin

Chuck Sheketoff

Irving Berlin learned that in 1942 the federal government was going to undertake "unprecedented income tax collections" to support the war effort, so he volunteered to write a popular song to aid in the tax collection effort. As noted in these official records from the IRS (correspondence, news release, sheet music - all in PDF), the IRS owns the copyright and widely distributed the song.

Listen to Danny Kaye sing "I Paid My Income Tax Today" (MP3, compliments of www.themadmusicarchive.com) by Irving Berlin.

The lyrics are a bit dated, as today we're mired in an unpopular war that's draining money that could be funding a national health care plan, improving our schools or repairing our national infrastructure. And we have a wartime president calling for tax cuts for both the wealthiest among us and large, profitable corporations.

Still, the issue addressed by the song – Irving Berlin's message – is timeless:
paying taxes is patriotic. Pure and simple.


[Lyrics after the page jump]

Here's the lyrics to "I Paid My Income Tax Today" by Irving Berlin (1942).

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 Chorus:

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 Chorus:

I PAID MY INCOME TAX TODAY.
A thousand planes to bomb Berlin.
They'll all be paid for, and I chipped in,
That cert'nly 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 Chorus:

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 TODAY.

Comments

  • Steve (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "Examine ev'ry bill they pay, They'll have to let me have my say"

    How beautifully naive. I assume by your definition, if you were a super patriot, you'd give every penny to the governement?

  • John Mulvey (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Is it strange that I enjoy seeing the paperwork?

    For those who lean more toward the hillbilly side, there's got a terrific Gene Autry version of the song. (I can try to email it if anyone can handle a 2mb file.)

    I have a hunch Mr. Autry sheltered a lot of income in his day.

    John (mulvey33 AT comcast DOT net)

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