“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
Ratified Feb. 3, 1913
First, full disclosure. There was an income tax during the Civil War, but it did not last very long. Later peace-time attempts were deemed to be unconstitutional. So Congress and its friends fixed that with the 16th Amendment. Shortly thereafter was enacted the Revenue Act of 1913.
Oh, to have the first tax back. The tax in 1913 ranged from 1% of taxable income to a 7% tax on filthy rich people. The original Form 1040 “Return of Annual Net Income of Individuals” was three pages long, with a page of instructions. About 1% of the population paid income taxes versus about 53% today. The “specific exemption” for couples was equal to about $93,000 in today’s dollars.
The Internal Revenue Code originally was about 400 pages. Today, some sources say that the Code has over 74,000 pages. I’ve got to admit that my copy only has 5,622 pages. Maybe I’ve got the abbreviated version or the commentators have the large print edition.
I decided not to celebrate the Code’s birthday in public. I don’t think my hard-pressed clients facing markedly increased taxes in 2013 would have appreciated a show of frivolity.
(P.S. Yes, it is my first post in a long time. I’ve got some great excuses for not blogging lately. But, who cares about excuses?)