Death and Taxes

Nothing in Life is Certain

by Gregory J. Cook, EA, CPA
Accredited Tax Advisor

December 7, 2019

but... Everyone knows the old saying, right?

It was Ben Franklin commenting on our Constitution in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789.

"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by John Hancock that they must all hang together:

"Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Ben Franklin was a pretty amazing character. He also documented a common sense decision making technique.

Decisional Balance Sheet

... my Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four Days Consideration I put down under the different Heads short Hints of the different Motives that at different Times occur to me for or against the Measure. When I have thus got them all together in one View, I endeavour to estimate their respective Weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out: If I find a Reason pro equal to some two Reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two Reasons con equal to some three Reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the Ballance lies; and if after a Day or two of farther Consideration nothing new that is of Importance occurs on either side, I come to a Determination accordingly.

It's so easy to get side-tracked off into Franklin's other ideas, writings or sayings. One thing is for sure, it's safe to say that the guy had just as many bad ideas as good ones, but he never stopped coming up with new ideas.

Gregory J. Cook, EA, CPA, Accredited Tax Advisor is licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department to represent taxpayers

On Death & Taxes

Two hundred and thirty years later, those words about "Death & Taxes" still ring true as they are repeated by thousands, especially at income tax filing time.