Tax Freedom Day 2013, Tax Trivia
(PCM) Thursday, April 18th 2013 is Tax Freedom Day, the day that the money that Americans earn that stops going into the government and you get to keep the rest. From January first, until April 18, on average, every cent you will make this year went into local, state and federal taxes. Today you are free! April 15th is the day that tax returns (tax reports to the gov’t) are due. You can file for an extension here to get a few more months, but you need to make sure all monies due are paid by the 15th to avoid additional penalties. If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street; If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat; If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat; If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet. -Taxman, George Harrison, via The Beatles TAX TRIVIA: ► The earliest known tax was implemented in Mesopotamia over 4500 years ago, where people paid taxes throughout the year in the form of livestock, which was the typical currency at the time. ► If you steal something, it technically counts as income, and is taxable. ► The U.S. tax code contains 7,000,000,000 words. If you are counting zeroes, that is 7 BILLION not Million. The Bible, called by many the greatest book of all time, has well under a million. The Gettysburg Address has 269 words, and that is often called the greatest speech ever written. The greatest love letter of all time, Tarzan’s to Jane had only 97 words. ► The first income tax was created in 1861 during the Civil War to finance the war effort. ► In 1894 Congress passed the Wilson-Groman tariff which was an income tax at the rate of 2% for income over $4,000 but it was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1895. ► In February of 1913 the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified to the Constitution, granting Congress the power to collect taxes on personal income. The one page 1040 form was introduced the following year. ► Six states have no individual income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington ► Richard Nixon signed the Tax Reform Act of 1969, which essentially eliminated taxes for those living in poverty and raised taxes on certain rich groups by closing loopholes. However, during his presidency he also reduced the highest rates for the richest Americans from 70% to 50%. ► The first e-file (electronic transmission of a tax return) took place on January 24, 1986. ► The “Presidential Campaign Fund” check-box was created in the 1972 in order to fund presidential elections. Since the inception of that check-off, over a billion dollars has been distributed to about a hundred primary election presidential candidates. The amount is deducted from any refund you may be due. In order to qualify, a candidate must get at least 5% of the vote. ► Car accidents have jumped consistently 6% on Tax Day over the past 30 years. ► Lady Godiva, was an 11th century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who took a famous naked horse ride through the streets of Coventry in order to get her husband to lower taxes on the locals. ► Pennslvania’s alcohol tax was designed to help the city of Johnstown, which had a devastating flood in 1936. Although Johnstown is in fine shape today, that tax is still collected to the tune of $200,000,000 a year for the Keystone State. ► Over the last decade it is estimated that the tax code was amended or revised over 4,000 times, more than one change a day! This does not count tax changes regarding healthcare. ► New York costs 49 cents per gallon of gasoline in taxes, and $4.35 for a pack of cigarettes. ► Married, childless people who rent their homes and earn an average to slightly above average salary get the fewest standard tax breaks. ► Effective in 2006, the Treasury Department said it will no longer collect a 3% federal excise tax on long-distance calls. The tax was imposed in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War. The treasury said it was conceding its battle to uphold the tax after five appeals courts declared it illegal. ► President Nixon made it commonplace for presidents to publicly release their tax returns. Gerald Ford’s tax returns are not public, but following Jimmy Carter, almost every US president and major US political figure has released their tax returns. TAX RELATED BUSINESS DEDUCTIONS ► If you are eligible for a tax deduction with moving expenses, you can usually include the costs for your pet’s move as well. ► If need to pay a babysitter while you are working without pay to a charitable organization, you can probably deduct the cost of the sitter. ► If you have a pet, like a junkyard dog, who works performed duties at your business, you can deduct the cost of feeding the pet/employee. ► Medical expenses for smoking cessation programs, nicotine patches and stop-smoking aides can be deductible. ► If you have a home office, you can deduct the cost of lawn care if you have costumers come to the location. The IRS scrutinizes home office expenses, however, so be very, very honest with any home/business expenses. ► Most legal things you do to attract new customers can be deducted. I suppose that would include beer. ► American taxpayers spend $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year, more than it takes to produce every car, truck, and van in the United States in a year. ► The IRS employs 114,000 people; that’s twice as many as the CIA and five times more than the FBI. ► 60% of taxpayers must hire a professional to get through their own return. ► It is expected that Tax Freedom Day will be considerably later in 2013. Stay tuned… TRULY EVIL TAXES AND LAWS In the late 1500s, Japan’s Hideyoshi abolished taxes on some things, like seafood, but imposed a tax of 67% on all rice crop yields, which was all that many people had. In some cases, he gave some back so families wouldn’t starve. In the early 1800s, women of some low castes in India had to pay a tax called mulakkaram (“breast tax”) if they wanted to cover their chests when they went outside of their homes. This type of modesty was considered a privilege of upper caste ladies. In 1840, a woman in the town of Cherthala refused to pay the tax. In protest, she cut off her breasts and had them presented to the tax collectors. She died, but the tax was repealed. Between 1365 and 1828, the Ottoman Empire levied what may have been the cruelest tax in history. Christian families living within Ottoman region had to give their sons to the government in a process called the ‘devshurmeh’. Every four years, government officials would travel throughout the country, choosing boys and young men between 12 and 20 years old, to be converted to Islam and became the personal property of the sultan, usually as soldiers. The rule of first night “jus primae noctis” – that a king or local lord could spend a night with the presumed virgin bride before the wedding was probably just a medieval myth, although there was a ‘culagium’ which was an official permission from the local authority for the serfs to marry. This developed into what we would now call a marriage license/fee/tax.