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The New York Times, January 21, 1906

Has No Personal Property Here, but Stands a Tax on $5,000

"Mark Twain" yesterday consented to pay taxes on $5,000 worth of personal property, despite the fact that he had just told the Tax Commissioners that he did not own any personal property here.

Mr. Clemens had received notice of assessment on $25,000 of personal property, and on a like sum as executor of the estate of Mrs. Clemens. He told President O'Donnel of the Tax Board that his wife's estate had all been settled, and that therefore he did not owe the city anything on that estate, as it no longer existed. He also said that he did not own any personal property in this city subject to taxation.

"Just for the humor of the situation, however, I am willing to pay on $5,000 if the city needs the money," he said. His consent for that sum was taken by President O'Donnel.

a related article appeared on the same day in the New York Herald:

New York Herald, January 21, 1906

Assessed at $25,000, He Says He Is Not Worth It, but Will Pay on $5,000

Although Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) assured Frank A. O'Donnel, president of the Board of Taxes and Assessments, yesterday that he possessed no personal property of value he consented to pay a personal property tax this year upon an assessment of $5,000. "I haven't that much money to my name," he told Commissioner O'Donnel, "but if you think the city really needs the money and ought to have it why I guess I can stand it and will charge it up to the conscience fund."

Mr. Clemens was assessed for $25,000 in his own name and $25,000 more as executor of the estate of Mrs. Clemens, who died recently. He told Commissioner O'Donnel that the estate of Mrs. Clemens had been divided and distributed as she desired and that he was not liable for taxation as the executor. This assessment was promptly crossed off the rolls.

Taking up his assessment of $25,000, Mr. Clemens declared that he would gladly pay the tax on that amount if he actually possessed it. But, he declared, the amount of personal property in his possession "amounted to practically nothing."

"I presume I should pay taxes, however, and as a matter of convenience to the city, if it seems necessary, I might pay on -- er -- well, say we make it $5,000. That's a good deal more than it should be, but if that is satisfactory to you we will let it go at that."

As this was "perfectly satisfactory" to the head of the Tax Department, the first figure on the bill was blotted out and Mr. Clemens will pay about seventy-five dollars to the city in October.


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