A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 11, 2012
“Capital Punishment: The income tax”

"Capital punishment” is the death penalty. An old joke defines the income tax as a punishment for having capital, or “capital punishment.” “Capital punishment—the income tax” is from the New York City humor magazine Life on May 12, 1921.

Jeff Hayes has been credited with the line since the 1970s, but he (whoever Jeff Hayes is) almost certainly used a 50-year-old joke line at that time.


Hathi Trust Digital Library
12 May 1921, Life magazine, “Life Lines,” pg. 690, col. 3:
Capital punishment—the income tax.

Hathi Trust Digital Library
22 January 1922, Life magazine, “Life Lines,” pg. 6, col. 1:
Capital punishment—the income tax.

22 June 1950, Portsmouth (OH) Times, “Minego’s Sports Gossip” by Pete Minego, pg. 28, col. 4:
Pete: Wot is your definition for capital punishment? The old income tax, buddy.

Google Books
Peter’s Quotations:
Ideas for Our Times

By Laurence J. Peter
New York, NY: Morrow
1977
Pg. 463:
Capital punishment: The income tax.—Jeff Hayes

Napa Valley Register
18 February 2008, Napa Valley Register (CA), “The economic stimulus”: ‎
Notable Quote: “Capital punishment: income taxes.” Jeff Hayes

Google Books
As Certain As Death:
Quotations About Taxes

By Jeffrey L. Yablon
Arlington, VA: Tax Analysts
2010
Pg. 20:
Capital punishment: The income tax.
-- Jeff Hayes

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • (1) Comments • Tuesday, September 11, 2012 • Permalink