“In this world nothing can be said to be truly certain except death and taxes.”
—BENJAMIN FRANKLIN IN A LETTER
TO JEAN BAPTISTE LEROY,
13 NOVEMBER 1789
APRIL 15. NO OTHER DATE ON THE CALENDAR, SAVE POSSIBLY December 25, is as indelibly etched in the national psyche. Yet the proverbial visitor from Mars might wonder what all the hoopla is about. Although income tax returns are due on April 15, most of the taxes people owe were paid during the preceding year and determined by decisions even farther in the past. And though many of us resolve on April 15 to do things differently next year, these resolutions are often forgotten in the wave of relief that comes when the tax form is finally dropped in the mailbox.
The trauma ...