Though it is often associated with Benjamin Franklin, the originator of the comparison of death and taxes was actually “Robinson Crusoe” author Daniel Defoe, who said, in his book “The Political History of the Devil,” “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believ’d.”

That said, as the April 18 deadline for tax filing approaches, we compiled a list of a few terms to keep in mind when talking about both a time when some of your readers might wish they were dead, and when they actually are.

Internal Revenue Service IRS is acceptable in all references.

     Capitalize Internal Revenue Service, but lowercase the revenue service.

death, die Don’t use euphemisms like “passed on” or “passed away” except in a direct quote.

net income, profit, earnings The amount left after taxes and preferred dividends have been paid.

     To avoid confusion, do not use the word “income” alone – always specify whether the figure is      income before taxes or net income.

dyeing, dying Dyeing refers to changing colors.

     Dying refers to death.


Grim Reaper Capitalize personifications.

tax cut Two words.

Laid to rest Acceptable alternative for buried.

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