From the late Erwin N. Griswold:
We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two. "At least," as one man said, "there's one advantage about death: it doesn't get any worse every time Congress meets."
--Erwin N. Griswold, former Solicitor General of the United States, former Dean of Harvard Law School.
From the late Martin D. Ginsburg:
There is an ancient belief that the gods love the obscure and hate the obvious. Without benefit of divinity, modern men of similar persuasion draft provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.
From the late Professor Boris Bittker:
....the Internal Revenue Code is not what it used to be -- and never was.
--Boris I. Bittker, "Constitutional Limits on the Taxing Power of the Federal Government," 41 Tax Lawyer 3, 11, Amer. Bar Ass'n (1987-88).
From the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit:
The Commissioner [of Internal Revenue] disallowed the Laneys' deductions because they exceeded Mrs. Laney's $1000 contribution to capital in the limited partnership. In order to understand his action, we must roll up our sleeves and delve into the latticework of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, however much we might prefer not to.
--from Laney v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 674 F.2d 342 (5th Cir. 1982).
Even over 71 years ago, the United States Supreme Court referred to U.S. federal tax law as being:
...a subject that is highly specialized and so complex as to be the despair of judges.
--from Dobson v. Commissioner, 320 U.S. 489, 498 (1943).
More from the year 1943:
At the present time, it is impossible to obtain a really authoritative decision of general application upon important questions of law for many years after the close of any taxable year. The average period between the taxable year in dispute and a Supreme Court decision relating thereto is nine years. Meanwhile confusion reigns in the day-by-day settlement of the more debatable questions of the tax law. One circuit court holds that a certain situation gives rise to tax liability; another circuit holds the contrary. The Commissioner and the lower federal courts are both confronted with the problem of reconciling the irreconcilable. A great part of the criticism of changing interpretations of the law announced by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is properly attributable to the multitude of tribunals with original jurisdiction in tax cases, and to the absence of provision for decisions with nationwide authority in the majority of cases. If we were seeking to secure a state of complete uncertainty in tax jurisprudence, we could hardly do better than to provide for 87 Courts with original jurisdiction, 11 appellate bodies of coordinate rank, and only a discretionary review of relatively few cases by the Supreme Court.
--from Roswell Foster Magill, ''The Impact of Federal Taxes'', p. 209 (1943), as quoted in footnote 26 of Dobson v. Commissioner, 320 U.S. 489, 500 (1943).
From Judge Learned Hand:
In my own case the words of such an act as the Income Tax… merely dance before my eyes in a meaningless procession: cross-reference to cross-reference, exception upon exception -- couched in abstract terms that offer [me] no handle to seize hold of [and that] leave in my mind only a confused sense of some vitally important, but successfully concealed, purport, which it is my duty to extract, but which is within my power, if at all, only after the most inordinate expenditure of time. I know that these monsters [the federal income tax statutes] are the result of fabulous industry and ingenuity, plugging up this hole and casting out that net, against all possible evasion; yet at times I cannot help recalling a saying of William James about certain passages of Hegel: that they were no doubt written with a passion of rationality; but that one cannot help wondering whether to the reader they have any significance[,] save that the words are strung together with syntactical correctness.
--from the article by Learned Hand, ''Thomas Walter Swan'', 57 Yale Law Journal No. 2, 167, 169 (December 1947).
If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation.
--Farmer's Almanac, 1966.
EDIT: edited once to expand a citation.