Not to drag everybody down on Super Sunday, but today also marks another occasion: The 100th anniversary of the implementation of the U.S. federal income tax:

On February 3rd, 1913, one of the two most historic events in US history took place: the ratification of the 16th amendment, which established Congress’ right to impose a Federal income tax on Americans, and overturned Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution which explicitly prohibited a general income tax. The amendment was brief and to the point, and read as follows: “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.” And with that, the US Federal Income Tax was born and has been with us for precisely 100 years.

Much more at Zero Hedge.

It’s hard to imagine that, for many years, this country was run on very limited funds. Up until the early 1800s, the government was run purely on internal sales taxes and revenue from a gigantic powdered wig closeout sale. Then, in 1817, the government got rid of internal taxes and functioned completely on tariffs on imported goods.

Can you imagine running the bloated monster of a federal government we have today solely on the four percent we’d get from taxes imposed on imports of running shoes and plastic novelty poop?

During the Civil War the “Revenue Act” was passed to raise money for the war, but that was repealed within a decade. But I imagine by then the sharks had already had a taste of that blood, so the income tax was reinstated in 1913:

The incomes of couples exceeding $4,000, as well as those of single persons earning $3,000 or more, were subject to a one percent federal tax. Further, the measure provided a progressive tax structure, meaning that high income earners were required to pay at higher rates.

It would require only a few years for the federal income tax to become the chief source of income for the government, far outdistancing tariff revenues.

By the way, here’s the alternate headline for this post: “U.S. Federal Income Tax Celebrates 100th Anniversary; Willie Nelson and Wesley Snipes Refuse to Buy it a Gift”

A little more info below. Click the picture to enlarge. Note in particular that in 1913 the tax code was 170 pages long as opposed to about 20,000 pages today:


25 Responses to “Reminder: The U.S. Federal Income Tax Turns 100 Today”

  1. SignPainterGuy on February 3rd, 2013 10:15 pm

    "…… and on February 25, 1913, with the certification by Secretary of State Philander C. Knox, …… "
    Philander – sounds like a really nice guy ! NOT ! More like an appropriate name to be attached to an amendment that has proven to be much longer lived and punitive than advertised. Let`s repeal it POST HASTE !

    Income should never be taxed, only money SPENT !

  2. jeffythequick on February 3rd, 2013 11:46 pm

    hah! Delay of game on George W. Bush!

    I figured he's to blame for the lights going out in the SuperDome…

  3. jeffythequick on February 4th, 2013 3:12 am

    O/T: Best Super Bowl Commercial in a long time:

    I miss Paul Harvey… Good Day!

  4. SignPainterGuy on February 4th, 2013 4:37 am

    As do I ! That was so good, I had to save it. Thanks !

  5. backwoodsconsr on February 4th, 2013 11:20 am

    It was 30 years ago today (Feb. 4th) that Karen Carpenter died. The most beautiful voice I've ever heard, silenced far too soon.

  6. jeffythequick on February 4th, 2013 11:33 am

    I'd like to counter that with a happy memory…

    18 years ago today, my daughter was born, and she, along with my other 6 children make me grateful that I'm a dad.

  7. backwoodsconsr on February 4th, 2013 11:41 am

    Congratulations. And Happy Birthday to your daughter.

  8. Marshall_Will on February 4th, 2013 12:18 pm

    Oh..! Happy happy! Major landmark and a big day. Congrats!

  9. Marshall_Will on February 4th, 2013 12:27 pm

    How refreshing! O'Drama ( Zero/Il Duce/PBUH/P'BO/teh one ) is totally tapped IN to the co-dependent mal-adjusted relationship the American public has with continued forced funding of DC's multiple, out of control spendaholic orgies.

    In His mind, we love the way we HATE it; and hate the way we LOVE it!? It's kinda' crazy, like mid-week drinking binges w/ the guys from work. You 'swear' it's "not you" and dread the hangovers ( but if God didn't intend for us to drink, why did he he make it so much FUN? )

    It's DUMB and we know we shouldn't 'do' it BUT… here comes another April 15th and..?

  10. Marshall_Will on February 4th, 2013 1:01 pm

    Another mile stone:

    "After Solid Decade+ of mindless devotion to The Daily Show, Portland transplant finally admits assertion "he doesn't even WATCH television" was all a ruse".

    When I first moved to Portland after having grown up in Iowa, there was no shortage of uber-trendy, self-appointed local hipsters loudly proclaiming they "hadn't watched TV in years!" 36 year old Michael Tibbets said. I knew it was an outright lie and coming from a solid midwestern upbringing, I KNEW I shouldn't have been making claims like that.

    But all the guys saying stuff like that were scoring with the hipster chicks! You know.., "the kind that leave coffee shops at the drop of a hat" with guys whose only worldly possessions include a backpack, guitar with 5 out of 6 strings and an indie world beat CD collection" Tibbets huffed in disgust. God only knows what kind of 'freak' they were getting on he added?

    Truth is, "I'm totally addicted to TV" he went on. "I'll watch anything!" he dryly confessed. I got tired of having to pretend "it just wasn't me" and now owns up to his facade. Like many Portland not so young 'youths' trying endlessly to stretch their imaginary 'adolescent years', Tibbets grew weary of living a lie. I'm not even what you could call a 'Liberal' mentioning a lot of the crunchy gals with unshaven legs and frightfully limited vocabularies "kinda' freaked me out a little?".

    When he moves to his next up and coming hipster hot spot, Tibbets said he'll try to be a little more honest about his consumer choices and actually get a job this time. Getting by on "bottle deposits and donating blood" isn't as glamorous as hipsters make it out to be he said adding "getting these ridiculous tattoos removed" is his number one priority with his next unemployment check he claims. Those don't "grow on trees" he added in a new found sense of responsibility.

  11. SignPainterGuy on February 4th, 2013 1:06 pm

    Congrats to you and the lovely Mrs theQuick and Happy Birthday to the lucky girl on her special day, a wonderful milestone !

  12. SignPainterGuy on February 4th, 2013 1:13 pm

    O/T; John F`n "Whatayamean those weren`t my Vietnam medals I tossed ?" Kerry, the new Sec of State, on his first day on the new job quipped, "After 8 years, can a man run the State Dept. ?" I guess we`ll have to wait until a man actually holds the office to find out !

  13. Truesoldier__ on February 4th, 2013 1:22 pm

    And just like the calls for higher taxes "on the rich" by Obama and the Dems, the income tax was only to be a "tax on the rich".

    To bad the education system is so piss poor that so many people do not know this little fact.

  14. SignPainterGuy on February 4th, 2013 1:30 pm

    It is my understanding that the 16th Amendment was meant and promised to be temporary, along with "just on the rich".

  15. Marshall_Will on February 4th, 2013 1:33 pm

    Not that I've seen much of her of late ( Mrs. Will's co. is doing mandatory OT after all the layoff's from innovation stifling O'Care Tax on medical technology companies ) but she mentioned the difference in her paycheck from dropping oldest daughter off their medical plan was *completely* absorbed by the OTHER O'bama tax..!

    She was "looking forward" to a little bump after finally being able to get her off our med plan and.., it's all evaporated. Nice 'raise' huh?

  16. Truesoldier__ on February 4th, 2013 1:42 pm

    So true. Just when you think you have found one way to same some money you have Obama taking from another area. I saw he recently said this:

    February 04, 2013

    Obama: ‘No Doubt’ We Need More New Taxes
    Fire it up

    "I don't think the issue right now is raising rates," President Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley in an interview that aired before the Super Bowl. "There's no doubt we need additional revenue, coupled with smart, spending reductions in order to bring down our deficit. And we can do it in a gradual way so that it doesn't have a huge impact."

    So in otherwords, he doesn't want to raise rates any more, just create new taxes, gradually so we get used to paying it over time.

  17. jeffythequick on February 4th, 2013 2:09 pm


    Have you noticed more e-mails coming from Jeff Merkley the last few months? It seems like he's on the John McCain "hide with his friends across the aisle for 4 years, and then take to the constituents about what they want for 2" plan.

    I wrote him a terse, yet factual e-mail back. I doubt I'll get a response, but what the heck… His e-mail was about the filibuster, and I responded, "lets see how much you like a reduced filibuster when you're out of power…"

    As for the 16th Amendment being temporary, I have a moral problem with an Amendment being temporary, and even more so a spending law being permanent. It's as if the politicians from today are making the easy decision, and the politicians of tomorrow have to make the difficult ones. They are cowards.

  18. Marshall_Will on February 4th, 2013 2:21 pm

    You mean, "The Candidate From Nowhere"? Never heard (1) thing about or for this dude until he was a 'senator'? Gordon Smith was the only guy from either party that voted against Iraq, but in hyper-Blue Oregon that just doesn't cut it!

    Salem won't QUIT until we become the first National version of what One Party Rule looks like! To read his emails you'd think the guy 'was' a Republican? Just as Kurt Schrader does.

  19. SignPainterGuy on February 4th, 2013 2:26 pm

    Kick the can down the road. Can we fill that can with lead so it breaks a couple toes next time ?

    A talk show host pointed out that it`s a shame that McAmnesty can only get the fire in his belly when grilling Rs. He and Grahamnesty both did good jobs hammering Chuck Hagel; why can`t they show that toward Ds ?

  20. Marshall_Will on February 4th, 2013 2:27 pm


    At 'our' age, it's all about socking away what little you CAN for a soon-to-be forced 'retirement'? Management has already come out and said production will be moved to MX and China nltn 2015. So start making your… 'arrangements'. Then THIS.

    Here's what we're seeing; Boomers will ditch their underwater mortgages EN MASSE. They'll simply walk away. They can't AFFORD the ever-escalating property taxes and even the UTILITIES are killing us!? Our HOA's are $250 a month and not a meeting goes by we're not threatened w/ their raising.

    The City wants more, more, MORE. We've had (3) water & sewer rate hikes in 2012. And it's STILL not enough… The ONLY homes/living arrangement Mrs. W and I will consider are well and septic sys. Other than that, forget it. At this rate we'll be living in a 5th wheel camper and calling it 'good'.

  21. SignPainterGuy on February 4th, 2013 2:39 pm

    So it`s no longer a dagger stab to the gut; it`s multiple pen knife stabs to the entire body !

  22. Marshall_Will on February 4th, 2013 2:53 pm

    Death By A Thousand Cuts: The Dimmocratic Way!

    Over the years, I found as a financial planner, that people would rather talk about being s_xually inadequate than talk about their FINANCES publicly! NO ONE likes to admit they simply "can't afford" ANYTHING?

    No matter how obviously it is out their income bracket. That's what 'some day' is for. Some day I'll own a yacht! But some day has arrived, and there's no 'yacht'. Just mounds of unpaid bills and ( if survey & statistics mean anything ) severely under-funded retirement plans.

    Even if they COULD afford to remain in situ, why the heck WOULD they? Even Dim's are doing the personal math and waking up to the fact the "value for dollar" just ain't THERE w/ their taxes? Most of those McMansions will NEVER find another sucker. I mean 'owner'.

  23. SignPainterGuy on February 4th, 2013 2:59 pm

    Now Ol` Rice Ass is saying, "I have big heels to fill" at State Dept. They should go well with his pant suits and smart girl glasses !

  24. jeffythequick on February 4th, 2013 5:33 pm

    How about concrete? Lead is too soft.

  25. jeffythequick on February 4th, 2013 5:37 pm

    He must have gotten Smith's e-mail list. I wrote Gordon several times, asking him which party he was in and why.

    You know, the more I think about it, why are Mormons considered such a right wing religion? The candidates that are LDS, Smith, Romney, and that other guy from Utah that ran for president don't really strike me as that far to the right… But then again, compared to Mr. That Guy, Barney Frank is a conservative.

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