Skip to Main Content

Mortimer Caplin, Tactful but Tough Tax Collector, Dies at 103

July 18, 2019, The New York Times

Mortimer Caplin, who as Internal Revenue commissioner in the early 1960s was credited with making taxpaying more tolerable for the majority of Americans who do so voluntarily and tougher for the rest to avoid or evade, died on Monday at his home in Chevy Chase, Md. He was 103.

His death was confirmed by his son Lee.

Mr. Caplin pursued tax cheats who were costing the government billions of dollars. He persuaded Congress, despite the opposition of corporate America, to require that expenses of more than $25 be itemized if they were claimed as tax deductions.

“The hunting lodge, the yacht, the safari, they’re going to be out,” he told Time magazine for a 1963 cover article. “But I can see $24.95 specials developing all over the country.”

Mr. Caplin also introduced a centralized computer system — known as the Martinsburg Monster, for the city in West Virginia where it was located — to audit returns swiftly and equitably. Revenue and compliance increased as a result.

Read more in The New York Times.


About Caplin & Drysdale
Celebrating our 55th Anniversary in 2019, Caplin & Drysdale continues to be a leading provider of legal services to corporations, individuals, and nonprofits throughout the United States and around the world. We are also privileged to serve as legal advisors to accounting firms, financial institutions, law firms, and other professional services organizations.

The firm's reputation over the years has earned us the trust and respect of clients, industry peers, and government agencies. Moreover, clients rely on our broad knowledge of the law and our keen insights into their business concerns and personal interests. Our lawyers' strong tactical and problem-solving skills -- combined with substantial experience handling a variety of complex, high stakes, matters in a boutique environment -- make us one the nation's most distinctive law firms.

With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., Caplin & Drysdale's core practice areas include:
For more information, please visit us at
Washington, DC Office:
One Thomas Circle NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
New York, NY Office:
600 Lexington Avenue
21st Floor
New York, NY 10022


This communication does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with you or any other reader. If you require legal guidance in any specific situation, you should engage a qualified lawyer for that purpose. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Attorney Advertising
It is possible that under the laws, rules, or regulations of certain jurisdictions, this may be construed as an advertisement or solicitation.
©2021 Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
All Rights Reserved.

Related Professionals