Sixty years before Leona Helmsley, J.P. Morgan says that only the little people have to pay taxes.
Since the date is approaching when many of us must pay the June installment on our 1932 income taxes, or go to jail, it may be interesting and timely to review the cases of two citizens who will pay no income tax this year, and paid none during the last two years. Case Number One is a coal miner, living in a squalid village in southern Illinois. In none of the last three years has his income equaled $600. He is a widower with five children. They occupy a three-room frame shanty on a company “street” which is a mudhole after every rain. The mother is dead. Two months before the sixth child was due to arrive, she made the mistake of trying to do the family washing with water which she carried from the community hydrant, four blocks distant. She had a sixty-dollar funeral. The miner owes the company store more than $200. He is hopeful that things will improve under Mr. Roosevelt, and that the black damp won’t get him before the children are old enough to look out for themselves.
Case Number Two is J. Pierpont Morgan, head of the private banking firm of JP Morgan and Company, which at the beginning of the present year owned unimpaired assets worth $53,194,000. Mr. Morgan has homes at 231 Madison Avenue, New York; Glen Cove, Long Island; 12 Grosvenor Square, London; Watford, England; and owns a shooting box in Scotland. He spends considerable time each year on his famous yacht, Corsair, which is reported to have cost $4,000,000. I have never seen any figures on what it costs to keep her in commission. Mr. Morgan is a member of the following clubs: Union, Knickerbocker, Harvard, Metropolitan, New York Yacht, Racquet and Tennis, Century, and University (New York); Athenaeum, Garrick, and Whites (London); Somerset (Boston) and Metropolitan (Washington). Honorary degrees have been bestowed on him by Harvard, Oxford (England), Princeton, Cambridge (England), and New York University; and he possesses the following decorations: Legion of Honor (France), Order of Leopold II (Belgium), Order of the Crown (Italy), and First Order of the Sacred Treasure (Japan). He is a director in seven of the world’s largest corporations, and is generally regarded as the most powerful banker in the world. Great industrialists, great bankers, distinguished jurists, and at least one President of the United States have been recipients of his favors. It is easily seen, therefore, that his situation in life is quite different from that of the coal miner. But in one respect both are in the same boat — neither paid any federal income tax in this country during the last three years — although it should be stated in justice to Mr. Morgan that he paid in England in all three. No doubt that is why he admires and imitates the English, even to the point of referring to the office manager of Morgan and Company as “my clark.”