Image Source: forums.parentingclub.com/index.php?showtopic=521Charles M. Schulz
Whew! You can sit down and relax now. Have a glass of wine. Put up your feet. You’ve filed your income tax return, and for a while the pressure is off. Sometimes I believe filing taxes is the most stressful event of the year.
I’ll bet you thought there was nothing interesting about April 15, Income Tax Day ‒ and you were right ‒ but like everything else, Tax Day has a history.
Remember, the creation of our country had a lot to do with taxes.
“You know, the idea of taxation with representation
doesn’t appeal to me very much, either.”
DEATH and TAXES
In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote this in French in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, a French scientist. In the letter, Franklin was discussing the French Revolution. He also described the constitution that had recently been accepted in the United States and his hopes for its durability. Our founding Father was not referring to federal income taxes in his famous quote. But as we know now, Franklin had a lot of foresight.
Our 16th president might be not as popular if everyone knew he initiated the federal income tax. Still, he deserves a break. From July, 1776, to July, 1862, there was no federal income tax. It took almost a century before the reviled institution of the Internal Revenue Service was established by ‒ you guessed it ‒Abraham Lincoln.
Realizing that funding the Civil War would require a lot of money, President Lincoln and the US Congress enacted the Revenue Act of 1862. The legislation created the first income tax, the inheritance tax, and the Internal Revenue Service, all of which continue to haunt the American public to this day.
The tax then was 3% on all incomes over $800 [about $18,150 in 2020 dollars]. Later in the year, the income level was lowered, and a higher tax bracket was created.
Actually, Lincoln’s idea to fund Civil War with taxes was not original. The Congress had already considered an income tax to fund the War 0f 1812, but did not carry it out.
Lincoln’s system was repealed in 1971 and the current system was not enacted until 1909. By 1913, after bugs about state sizes were worked out and all states were in agreement, 16th Amendment of the Constitution was enacted.
THE IDES OF MARCH
Tax Day started out in 1913 on March 1 but was shifted to March 15. Even I can remember lots of jokes about the similarity between the Ides of March and Tax Day.
In 1955, for no apparent reason, the due date was again changed, this time to April 15, which is still the deadline to date, unless it conflicts with certain holidays. According to Time, "They switched income-tax day from March 15 to April 15, thus giving the taxpayer an extra month to recover from Christmas expenses and sparing him the yearly ordeal of hearing and reading clichés about the ides of March."
The “official” reason given for the change was the need to spread out the IRS employee’s workload. Rumors run rampant and suggest it is a way for government to wait even longer to pay refunds so it can earn more interest.
DON’T GO THERE
You’ve probably been sitting on a pile of tax forms for weeks, and during that time, in addition to cursing, you’ve probably wondered how long the tax code is. You really don’t want to go there.
In case that’s not clear enough, the full text of Title 26 has 5.5 million words, about four times as many as the bible.