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April 06, 2007 

The Art of Taxation - Joseph Hemard's Illustrated Tax Code

While I do not normally cover tax-related topics, I wanted to bring to your attention a unique and off beat tax-related article entitled The Art of Taxation - Joseph Hemard's Illustrated Tax Code, which was written by my law partner Farley Katz. The article, which was recently published in the Tax Lawyer, the American Bar Association's tax law journal, discusses The Code Général desImpôts Directs et Taxes Assimilées (General Code of Direct and Related Taxes), illustrated by the French book illustrator Joseph Hémard and published in a limited edition in Paris in 1944.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article, which also contains numerous illustrations from the book:

Tax codes are notoriously dull reading. They are devoid of interest to anyone but professionals trained in the arcane language of the tax laws who, even then, never actually consult them except when required by a specific task at hand. The idea of a lengthy, commercially published tax code, profusely illustrated with humorous cartoon-like drawings full of puns and whimsy, with illustrations beautifully hand printed in color, seems almost unimaginable. But such an incredible book exists! Add to this the facts that the book was printed in occupied Paris near the end of World War II and that it contains numerous risqué and decidedly antiauthoritarian images, and one begins to appreciate how truly fantastic this book is.
Even if you have no interest in tax law, but are interested in art and history, it is worth taking a look at this fascinating article, which can be found in PDF format here.

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