“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin” — Mark Twain
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In this quote, Mark Twain is making a witty comparison between two occupations to highlight his views on taxation. A taxidermist is someone who preserves animal skins, while a tax collector obtains money from citizens. Twain suggests that while a taxidermist only takes an animal’s outer covering, a tax collector extracts much more from taxpayers by taking their hard-earned money.
Overall, he appears to be using his characteristic satire to criticize tax collectors for, in his view, essentially “skinning” citizens through high taxes and levies rather than just taking the surface amount. Twain’s joke emphasizes his philosophical belief that the government takes too much from people through the tax system.