It's Tax Day! 13 Interesting Facts About US Taxes

I know what you’re saying, “Wow, fun.” Well, hush. It’s tax day and you probably don’t know much trivia about taxes. For example, did you know that chewing gum paid (in part) for the Spanish American War? See? That’s interesting.

13 Interesting Facts About Taxes:

• Before the American Revolution there were few taxes. The Southern colonies taxed imports and exports. The middle ones were fond of a poll tax or head tax that taxed every adult male, and New England was all about property taxes. Then the British went to war with France and levied taxes against the colonies in order to pay for it. This did not go over well, to say the least.

• The Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, did not have a nationwide tax system. Instead, it relied on donations from the states. This did not work.

• The Constitution, adopted in 1789, finally allowed the US government to levy taxes. They slapped a tax on “distilled spirits, tobacco and snuff, refined sugar, carriages, property sold at auctions, and various legal documents” to pay for the Revolution.

• The Whiskey Rebellion taught President Washington that it was risky to impose a largely unenforceable tax on whiskey.

• From 1817 to 1861 the Federal Government collected no internal revenue.

• During the Civil War the first income tax was levied “at 3 percent on all incomes higher than $800 a year.” This income tax was expanded, then abolished in 1872.

• The War Revenue Act of 1899 levied (among other taxes) a tax on chewing gum in order to pay for the Spanish-American War.

• In 1913 Congress passed the 16th amendment to the Constitution allowing income tax. Form 1040 was introduced and is still in use today.

• In 1916 Congress deleted the word “lawful” before the word “income” making illegal income taxable.

• Social Security Taxes began in 1935. This tax provided “unemployment compensation” for those who had lost their jobs and aid for various people who needed it.

• By 1945, 43 million Americans were paying income tax. In 1939, there were only 4 million income tax payers.

• In 1953, the Bureau of Internal Revenue changed its name to the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.

• The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 brought the top tax bracket down to 50%. Previously, it had been as high as 94%.

See? Not too painful. And you’re so much smarter now. —MEGHANN MARCO

History of the U.S. Tax System [Department of the Treasury]
(Photo: samuelcharlessolom onthethird)