American Taxation

HOW A NATION BORN OUT OF A TAX REVOLT has—and especially hasn’t—solved the problems of taxing its citizens

 

JEAN BAPTISTE COEBERT, THE FINANCIAL GENIUS WHO kept Louis XIVs famously expensive government afloat, once said, “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

 
Read more »

The First 1040

Seventy-five years ago Americans paid their first income tax. And liked it.

On the evening of March 1, 1914, Americans all around the nation inaugurated what has become a spring ritual for millions of us. They raced to file the first Form 1040 at the last minute before the deadline, hurrying by motorcar or trolley or on foot. Read more »

The Tax To End All Taxes

Where Is Henry George Now That We Need Him?

He had the answer—he believed it, and he persuaded millions of others to believe it, too. Even today there are those willing to maintain that if the American people had just listened to him, we would not now be afflicted by a multitude of taxes like barbs in the skin—including the annual stab of the 1040 form. Read more »

Was It Legal? Thoreau In Jail

When Constable Samuel Staples of Concord, Massachusetts, placed Henry David Thoreau under arrest for nonpayment of his state poll tax in late July of 1846, he had no idea that his act would bring about international repercussions a century later. On a less important but perhaps equally interesting level, neither of them evidently was aware that the arrest was extralegal—a fact that has just now come to light. Read more »

The Income Tax And How It Grew

and grew, and grew, and grew

Sixty years ago the permanent individual income tax, with escalation built into its table of rates, came on gently and quietly, by no means ignored, yet not the object of any great furor, either. Read more »