Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th,1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it it was a date “that would live in infamy”.
Two years later, Congress passed the “Current Tax Payment Act”.
I might suggest that was a date that forever changed America as well.
Prior to 1943, we Americans paid income taxes quarterly or annually.
This action by Congress created “withholding” so the American government could have a steady cash flow to fund WWII.
However, I think some politicos knew if those taxes were “withheld”, we’d forget how much we pay to fund our various forms of government.
I’ve always believe if each of us had to write a check to ‘the government” monthly, some of us might think, “Hey! This is a lot of money!! Am I getting my money’s worth?”
I think it might instantly create “term limits” and spur interest in voting.
As it is now, “withholding ” makes it relatively painless to settle up with our tax charges while we revel with “tax refund checks” which are pretty much interest-free loans we give to Uncle Sam.
Pretty nice of us, eh?
Oh, by the way, the Internal Revenue Service says the average American tax refund is $3,000.
Did you know that “Tax Day” and “Tax Freedom Day” are roughly the same date?
The Tax Foundation says, on average, “Tax Freedom Day” comes right about the same time as “Tax Day”, in mid-April.
“Tax Freedom Day is the day the typical American has earned enough to settle his federal, state and local tax debt.
That figure, by the way, is actually more than we spend for food, clothing and housing.
In 2000, “Tax Freedom Day” didn’t arrive until May 1st and the Tax Foundation said the tax bill amounted to 33% of our total income.
Compare that to 1900, when the the tax figured out to 5.9% of total income, making Tax Freedom Day in that year happen on January 22nd.
Actually, if you figure interest on the national debt, we don’t really see Tax freedom Day until sometime in the first week of May.
Taxes are nothing new.
They date back to 3,000 B.C.
We could even say taxes are “biblical” since Joseph told his people to give a fifth of their crops to Pharoah.
I often feel like hitting a “fifth” after doing our taxes.
Taxes have never been “popular” in the United States.
We learned from the Broadway musical “Hamilton” with the song, “Imagine what ‘gon happen when they try to tax our whiskey.”
It was a little tiff called the “Whiskey Rebellion” when Alexander Hamilton imposed a 9 cent a gallon tax on liquor for the small producers.
Violence broke out.
Tax officers were tarred and feathered.
Others were killed during riots.
Although the rebellion was tamped down in 1794, the tax stayed on the books until President Thomas Jefferson repealed in in 1802.
The first-ever federal income tax was Abraham Lincoln’s doing when he came up with the Revenue Act in 1861 to help finance the Civil War.
It was a 3% tax on income over $800, probably our first “flat tax” and that $800 figure today would be closer to $23,000.
But the income tax we all know and love today became a reality with the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.
Simply stated, it “allowed Congress to levy a tax on income from any source without apportioning it among the states and without regard to the census.”
The original “Tax Day” was March 1st until 1955 when our government thought we needed more time toi work on those taxes and the day was moved to April 15th.
The IRS says a typical taxpayer used up 11 hours working on record-keeping, tax planning, form submission and other fun-filled activities connected to doing our taxes.
Business filers have even more fun.
They spend an average of 20 hours which is almost twice that amount.
In 1698, Peter the Great taxed beards on his fellow Russians to encourgae them toi look more like their clean-shaven European counterparts.
From 1784 to 1811, Great Britain had a “hat tax”.
If you were caught wearing a hat without a tax stamp on the inside, you could be fined.
In 1798, an enterprising Brit thought he’d make money by forging hat stamps with his printing press.
He was caught and sentenced to death.
Willie Nelson once recorded an album, “IRS Tapes” with the proceeds going towards paying off his tax debt.
Did you know our federal government had a $30M tax surplus in 1836.
It figured out to about $2 a person.
Now, the state of Maine actually gave that back to its’ citizens.
One woman bought two fancy candles to help her “remember the good times”.
I understand those candles are somewhere in a museum.
Might I suggest the Ripley’s “Believe it or not” Museum?
You can’t hold a candle to those good, old days.