One Hundred Years of Income Tax

Sunday, February 3, is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, which makes it the one hundredth birthday of the income tax. It has grown rather ill-tempered in its dotage.

Americans for Tax Reform commemorated the occasion by publishing a few fun facts about the income tax. Among other interesting statistics, the initial top tax bracket was only 7 percent, and it didn’t kick in until income reached a whopping $11.6 million in 2013 dollars. Only 358,000 people had to fill out 1040 forms at first, because the standard family deduction was an adjusted $93,000.


Over the past hundred years, the tax code has swelled from 400 pages to almost 74,000. The top rate is 39.6 percent; add in state and local taxes, and you’ve got the government soaking up over half of every marginal dollar earned by the Evil Rich. And the top bracket crashes down on those who earn over $450k, which is the new functional definition of a “millionaire.” Every new tax – from the income tax itself, to the Alternative Minimum Tax and its prospective stepchild, the “Buffett Rule” – is sold as a small levy on the vast wealth of millionaires. The AMT was only supposed to affect a couple of hundred people when it was implemented in 1969, but now it’s on the verge of grabbing 50 million taxpayers, if it’s not “fixed.” In the early years of the income tax, Americans were likewise assured that it would only slip a few dollars from the bulging wallets of the wealthy.

Allowing the government to sink its feeding tubes into the veins of American income has fueled astonishing government growth. That first itty bitty tax levy brought in a paltry $16.6 billion in revenue, adjusted for the past century of inflation. Today the income tax brings in $2.7 trillion. Government inevitably grows to fill, and exceed, the space made available for it.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this tax is the way it is collected. As we were all reminded during the row over presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s remarks about the “47 percent,” the “progressive” tax system has moved an increasingly large cohort of Americans out of the system entirely, while placing an ever-greater share of the burden upon a dwindling group of high wage earners. Remarkably, this group is perpetually accused of “greed” and refusing to pay its “fair share,” even though the relationship between its tax burden and the amount of income it earns has long since exceeded any reasonable definition of “fairness.” Even before the new Obama tax increases kicked in, the Heritage Foundation noted that the top 10 percent of income earners were carrying 71 percent of the federal income tax burden, even though they earned only 43 percent of all income. The bottom 50 percent, meanwhile, earned 13 percent of all income but paid only 2 percent of the income tax.

Read more from this story HERE.

  • m123s

    Aka, International Redistrubution System = Bondage. Americans are made to feel empowered/free, because of PRODUCTION. The global system requires Americans to keep things going; taxes,green backs,inflation,u.n,wbo,150 military bases around the world, etc. Reward? Fake freedom.

  • ONTIME

    WTP have out grown the income tax, it has become a tool of the left to cause societal change by use of tax discrimination and class warfare, it is more than morally wrong and should be abandoned for a national sales tax that appears on the national ballot every ten years. The 47% that do not contribute to the income tax should be quite able to abide a national sales tax and understand that the more you spend means the more tax you pay, it would be a incentive to improve your income and still be equal to all others regardless of income.
    Term limits would be a great complement to this sales tax it too would limit the incumbency of all political officials and appointees to prevent what we now have, elitism, long term incumbency and corruption. We could have a accountable budget, far better representation and put the civil back into public service and remove the moral duplicity of the left…….maintaining and repairing this republic was never said
    to be quick or easy…

    • ONTIME – the national sales tax solution would work EXCEPT that it would be implemented with only a promise that the income tax would be eliminated; that, of course, will never happen, at least not while we have Democrats in charge.

      • Poppo

        Unfortunately, the Repubs have shown no inclination to do anything (except talk) that the Dems don’t do.

      • ONTIME

        That’s why there would be a insistence on term limits…representation Subject: [joewmiller] Re: One Hundred Years of Income Tax

  • Joe1938

    Are all of you celebrating today? The entitlers are celebrating and the Producers have their flags at half mast.

    Sunday, February 3, is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, which makes it the one hundredth birthday of the income tax. Compliments of Thomas Woodrow Wilson, a progressive democrat of course. He was President from 1913 to 1921.

  • Poppo

    Truth be known, they don’t need the money developed by the Income Tax. The fiat money created by the Fed is thousands of times the amount collected by the IT. It is not about the money, it is all about control. The liberals will not be happy until they control every aspect of life.

  • cmdorsey

    Happy Birthday to LEGALIZED EXTORTION!!