Talk:Taxation history of the United States

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Colonial tax[edit]

From the discussion in Talk:Taxation in the United States one person suggested that the history of taxation should also include those from the colonial times, in specific the boston tea party. I thought to include sections of when the US were colonies of France and Spain particularly since those European countries demanded taxes to warehouse items in New Orleans that were shipped down the Mississippi from what was then the West and now the mid-West. Such European countries also demanded taxes of in Spain and Mexico, but that would require more research. Perhaps I'm being too bold by adding them. Also, what would be a better term for "colonial tax"?EECavazos 23:08, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

The section on colonial taxation includes a section on the Boston tea party. Shouldn't it include a section on the Tea Act of 1773 instead? I find this somewhat misleading noting that the Tea Act of 1773 was a "drawback on duties and tariffs" (a tax cut). See The Tea Act of 1773 in wiki for source info.Nventimiglia 13:43, 22 October 2011 (PST)

Creation[edit]

I noticed that half a year ago Morph suggested creating this article devoted to the history of taxation in the US. I took the liberty of creating it. If no one works on it but me, then it'll take a while to get it up to speed in order for reference as a main article to be made to it in Taxation in the United States.EECavazos 23:10, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

Work in progress[edit]

I thought to be bold and create this right off even though much of the content is not readily entered all at once. It'll take a while to find all the applicable articles and do all the research. But, a first step is needed.EECavazos 23:12, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

Approach[edit]

I think the best approach to the history of taxation in the United States would be a division by type of tax. This would enable easy direction to main articles for each type of tax and collateral articles on each type of tax (i.e. excise tax and whisky rebellion articles for the history section of excise taxes). EECavazos 00:20, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Introduction[edit]

I drafted a rough introduction that was short but extensive enough in scope to include all the different taxes imposed in the United States when it was a country and when it was a bunch of colonies. It needs a lot of work and is more of notice introduction than a substantive fact-based on. EECavazos 00:01, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Merger?[edit]

Check out Income tax in the United States#Legal History. Should there be a merger? There are two possibilities that I can think of offhand: (1) create History of Income Taxation in the United States and use that as a main article where we merge the history of income taxation from this article with the legal history found in Income tax in the United States, which I think would be better for an overall organization scheme, OR (2) just merge much of the legal history content from Income Tax in the United States into this article's section on income tax. EECavazos 03:02, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

I'm thinking of a scheme similar to History of Hong Kong, which is a broad history article where all the sections are concise summaries coupled with main articles that go into far more detail. Applying this scheme here, all the different forms of taxation like excise, tariff, income, estate, etc. would have their own separate history main articles. However, I don't want to go too far overboard that this article gives little to no information so as to become useless. EECavazos 03:13, 15 July 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like a plan. :-) Morphh (talk) 3:20, 15 July 2007 (UTC)
I did both options, real easy. Lets go with the one that meets your fancy. EECavazos 04:06, 15 July 2007 (UTC)
What ever happened here... The income tax article still has some tags on the merger. Morphh (talk) 3:58, 02 February 2008 (UTC)

Removed Graph[edit]

Total government tax revenues as a percentage of GDP for the U.S. in comparison to the OECD and the EU 15.

I removed the graph at right from the main article. It is not relevant to corresponding discussion on marginal tax rates, and its use of a skewed Y axis makes it deceptive and seemingly biased. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MrJD (talkcontribs) 22:57, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Payroll tax[edit]

I suppose at sometime we'll have to make a section devoted to payroll tax. I don't have expertise on this, just a little knowledge, but I think in the next few days I can start making contributions.EECavazos 21:25, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Ah, I just remember reading something about this... let me find it. Ok.. this was a chain e-mail so forgive me and the partisan digs - I'm on my way out the door and just going to post it quick so you have something. Morphh (talk) 21:33, 03 October 2007 (UTC)

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program,

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent "Trust Fund" rather than into the General operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be tax ed as income.


Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month -- and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to "put away" -- you may be interested in the following:


Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent "Trust Fund" and put it into the General fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the democratically controlled House and Senate.


Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.


Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities????

A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the "tie-breaking" deciding vote, as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the USA.


Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

This is MY FAVORITE:

A: That's right! Jimmy Carter! And the Democratic Party of course! Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them , even though they never paid a dime into it!

Got it, I first moved over the history section from the FICA page. I also want to add some of the development after FICA started . . . pretty much what you talked about above.EECavazos 04:41, 6 October 2007 (UTC)



I cringe whenever I see someone call out the supposed regressive nature of the payroll tax. The tax promises a link to a benefit, as if it's not a tax at all, but rather a contribution to a personal return. The payout/payin is extremely progressive. The cap on contributions is similar to the cap on 401k/IRA contributions - it's supposed to be a limit on "benefits". It seems quite dishonest to try to score political points with fake regressivity. Can we not mention one angle without the other? MrJD March 2011 —Preceding undated comment added 22:22, 20 March 2011 (UTC).

Alternative minimum tax[edit]

Added a section for the alternative minimum tax and I filled in some content from the main article.EECavazos 17:30, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Approach to different types of income taxes[edit]

Should there be different treatment for the different taxes that are within the realm of income taxes like AMT and capital gains tax, but which are distinguished with their own sections? Should we somehow merge capital gains tax into income tax in order to demonstrate that there are different types of taxes within the income tax while there are other taxes that are not within the income tax like gift/estate tax? Or would an explanation in the beginning of a the different income taxes be enough? I've taken this second approach because for now I think it's more workable. Incorporating all the different types of income taxes into the income tax section may be too unwielding.EECavazos 19:26, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Tariff[edit]

These wikipedia articles may be quite helpful for the tariff section.EECavazos 21:21, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Verbiage on Central Illinois case[edit]

I am moving this verbiage from the article to here:

Central Illinois Public Service Co. v. United States, 435 U.S. 21 (1978), confirmed that wages and income are not identical as far as taxes on income are concerned, because income includes not only wages, but any other gains as well. The Court in that case noted that in enacting taxation legislation, Congress "chose not to return to the inclusive language of the Tariff Act of 1913, but, specifically, 'in the interest of simplicity and ease of administration,' confined the obligation to withhold [income taxes] to 'salaries, wages, and other forms of compensation for personal services'" and that "committee reports ... stated consistently that 'wages' meant remuneration 'if paid for services performed by an employee for his employer'". Id. at 27.

This needs to be reviewed carefully. The issue presented in the case was not whether wages and income are "identical". Stay tuned. Famspear (talk) 21:05, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

OK, here's the deal on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Central Illinois case. As I have previously noted in another talk page, the U.S. Supreme Court did not establish, in the Central Illinois case, that “wages” and “income” are not "identical. Of course, it is correct that the two have never been “identical,” as “income” includes more than just “wages.” That was simply not the issue presented to the Court, and it was not an issue decided in the case.
Instead, the Court ruled that under Internal Revenue Code section 3401, an employer who reimbursed employees for lunch expenses during company travel was not required to withhold federal income tax on those reimbursements. Why? The lunch reimbursements simply did not qualify as "wages" for purposes of the section 3401(a) withholding requirements. The case was NOT about whether wages are income, or whether wages and income are identical, or whether income includes gains other than wages, etc. To avoid confusion, I argue that the verbiage should simply be left out of the article. Famspear (talk) 21:35, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
I have no objections to leaving it out. Morphh (talk) 21:43, 06 February 2008 (UTC)

Apportionment of Income Taxes[edit]

The Pre-16th Amendment section of this article makes this assertion: "Since apportionment of income taxes is impractical..."

This appears to be stated as an obvious fact with no explanation given. It certainly is not clear to me why it is impractical. It should be no more impractical to apportion income tax than dividend tax. One could also note that it is, in fact, routinely done. Anyone earning income in two or more states will, as a matter of course, in filing their state taxes, apportion their income, and the consequent state income taxes to those respective states!

Now one might speak about the political difficulty in apportioning income taxes, but that is an entirely different matter. —Preceding unsigned comment added by TJSawyer (talkcontribs) 00:51, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Excessive focus of new material on rate changes[edit]

I disagree with the move of the considerable content covering details of changes in the top marginal tax rate. The material violates WP:UNDUE. The article from which moved was a content fork to get rid of that material from a major article without deleting the material. Please indicate arguments for not reverting. Oldtaxguy (talk) 02:04, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Excessive focus on marginal rates[edit]

The various entries in this article well detail the changes in marginal rates for the different forms of taxation, but there is nothing about the fact that few, if any, actually pay these rates. That seems very important. A corresponding history of deductions, credits, and other factors, and some summary of their impact would balance the article. MrJD (talk) 22:54, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Chronological order?[edit]

Wouldn't this work better in chronological order, rather than being split by type of tax? - Presidentman talk · contribs Random Picture of the Day (Talkback) 22:50, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

WW2 taxes[edit]

moved from Rjensen talk page


Dear Rjensen: Have you read the source material for the edit you restored on Taxation history of the United States? I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the material. You're an experienced editor and I respect your Wikipedia work, so I want to understand the reason for that edit. Yours,Famspear (talk) 20:35, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

yes I did read it. FDR proposed a 100% tax on high salaries to promote equality (not to raise money). Why else do you think he did it? This is an important episode in the history of taxation--taxation as the power to destroy or prevent Rjensen (talk) 20:41, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

No. Here's the exact wording from Title II, section 7 of Executive Order 9250, per the link you restored:

In order to correct gross inequities and to provide for greater equality in contributing to the war effort, the Director is authorized to take the necessary action, and to issue the appropriate regulations, so that, insofar as practicable no salary shall be authorized under Title III, Section 4, to the extent that it exceeds $25,000 after the payment of taxes allocable to the sum in excess of $25,000. Provided, however, that such regulations shall make due allowance for the payment of life insurance premiums on policies heretofore issued, and required payments on fixed obligations heretofore incurred, and shall make provision to prevent undue hardship.

That's not a proposal for a 100% tax on incomes over $25,000. That is an Executive Order to the effect that the applicable officer is authorized to issue regulations that would, in effect, limit the amount of certain salaries covered by the legislation to which the Order related. The phrase "after the payment of taxes allocable to the sum in excess of $25,000" is not a proposal to impose a higher tax, or an additional tax, or any tax at all.

Generally, taxes cannot be imposed through an executive order, and I am sure that President Roosevelt's legal advisors were well aware of that. Further, taxes are not "proposed" through an executive order.

Now, at some time, Roosevelt may well have proposed a 100% tax on salaries in excess of $25,000, but he did not do that in this executive order. What I am saying is that the material that is being used as the source for what is in the article does not say what the article claims that material says.

Comments? Famspear (talk) 20:50, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

PS: Also, read the linked material regarding Roosevelt's February 6, 1943 letter to Congressman Doughton, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee:

You have written me that there is a proposal before the Ways and Means Committee to amend the Public Debt Bill by adding a provision which in effect would nullify the Executive Order issued by me under the Act of Oct. 2, 1942 (price and wage control), limiting salaries to $25,000 net after taxes......

---(dark bolding added by me). Those are the President's words. The President himself was not describing the Executive Order as a "proposal" to impose a "tax" or to increase a tax rate to 100%. The reference to "net after tax" is a reference to the limitation on the amount of the salary itself.Famspear (talk) 21:02, 21 November 2012 (UTC)


FDR proposed a 100% tax and Congress then rejected it. That is what the article refers to . He then tried this executive order *which only applied to companies with direct govt contract. Rjensen (talk) 21:10, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, so on the point that FDR proposed a 100% tax and Congress rejected it, I would argue that we should find and use some reliable, previously published source that says that. (Indeed, I would argue that the source could be your own published writings, if you have published something on that.) But I would argue that the material as presently shown in the article leaves the incorrect impression that the Executive Order itself was the proposal for the 100% tax on certain salaries. Famspear (talk) 21:17, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

In other words, the text could be tweaked something along these lines:

In pursuit of equality (rather than revenue) President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a 100% tax on all incomes over $25,000.[citation needed] When Congress did not enact that proposal, Roosevelt issued an executive order attempting to achieve a similar result through a salary cap on certain salaries in connection with contracts between the private sector and the federal government. Roosevelt, Franklin D. "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Executive Order 9250 Establishing the Office of Economic Stabilization.".  Roosevelt, Franklin D. (February 6, 1943). "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Letter Against a Repeal of the $25,000 Net Salary Limitation".  Roosevelt, Franklin D. (February 15, 1943). "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Letter to the House Ways and Means Committee on Salary Limitation". 

That essentially leaves the citations as they are, tweaks the language a bit, and leaves a citation tag for inserting an additional source at the end of the first sentence. What do you think? Famspear (talk) 21:24, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

And now, I've found a source for the first sentence: Jeff Haden, "How would you feel about a 94% tax rate?", Dec. 7, 2011, Moneywatch, CBS News, at[1]. Famspear (talk) 21:33, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

So, here's a possible format for tweaking it:

In pursuit of equality (rather than revenue) President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a 100% tax on all incomes over $25,000. Jeff Haden, "How would you feel about a 94% tax rate?", Dec. 7, 2011, Moneywatch, CBS News, at[2]. When Congress did not enact that proposal, Roosevelt issued an executive order attempting to achieve a similar result through a salary cap on certain salaries in connection with contracts between the private sector and the federal government. Roosevelt, Franklin D. "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Executive Order 9250 Establishing the Office of Economic Stabilization.".  Roosevelt, Franklin D. (February 6, 1943). "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Letter Against a Repeal of the $25,000 Net Salary Limitation".  Roosevelt, Franklin D. (February 15, 1943). "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Letter to the House Ways and Means Committee on Salary Limitation". 

What do you think? Famspear (talk) 21:36, 21 November 2012 (UTC)


well it's closer. FDR proposal to Congress April 27 1942 said the tax system should be set so that a person would be left with at most $25,000 after taxes. (that means a 100% tax rate at an $$ point that differs for each person). As for the exec order, Congress rescinded it and it never went into effect. Instead a new tax law was passed with (in 1945) a 94% top rate. it's well covered in Brownlee, Federal Taxation in america: A Short History -Page 109-10..see fn #14 online Rjensen (talk) 21:44, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

So, with the Brownlee citation added (and converted back to footnote format), something like this:

In pursuit of equality (rather than revenue) President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a 100% tax on all incomes over $25,000.[1][2] When Congress did not enact that proposal, Roosevelt issued an executive order attempting to achieve a similar result through a salary cap on certain salaries in connection with contracts between the private sector and the federal government.[3][4][5]

I think something like that should work. Famspear (talk) 22:03, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

there were three proposals: FDR April 1942: applies to everyone. The final takehome pay = $25,000 , whether a person earned $50k, 100k or a million. Rejected by Congress. 2) FDR exec order caps all salaries (at companies with govt contracts) at $25,000; the person also pays taxes on that and his takehome is much less than $25,000. Congress overturns it. c) final law = sliding scale with 94% marginal rate imposed only on very high incomes. Brownlee is the best citeRjensen (talk) 22:07, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

OK. I added the material, with the Brownlee cite and the CBS Moneywatch cite as well. Obviously, Brownlee is the better of the two.

On a tangential note, I think the 94% rate on Brownlee might be a typo. The highest marginal tax rate of which I'm aware for Federal income tax in that period (1940s & 1950s) or in any other period for that matter was 91% or 92%. Maybe Brownlee is referring to some sort of rate after a surtax, I don't know. I can double check on that if you like; I have the United States Statutes at Large, the 1939 and 1954/1986 Internal Revenue Codes, and the actual blank tax forms, official instructions, and tax rate schedules from 1913 to the present. Famspear (talk) 22:16, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

OK, per the actual U.S. Treasury instructions for Form 1040, these are the highest nominal marginal U.S. federal income tax rates for individuals (not corporations, trusts, estates, etc., and not reflecting any other kind of federal tax) for the tax years indicated (I picked 1940 through 2011 just for illustration):

1940: 75%

1941: 77%

1942: 82%

1943: 82%

1944: 91%

1945: 91%

1946: 91%

1947: 91%

1948: 91%

1949: 91%

1950: 91%

1951: 91%

1952: 92%

1953: 92%

1954: 91%

1955: 91%

1956: 91%

1957: 91%

1958: 91%

1959: 91%

1960: 91%

1961: 91%

1962: 91%

1963: 91%

1964: 77%

1965: 70%

1966: 70%

1967: 70%

1968: 70%

1969: 70%

1970: 70%

1971: 70%

1972: 70%

1973: 70%

1974: 70%

1975: 70%

1976: 70%

1977: 70%

1978: 70%

1979: 70%

1980: 70%

1981: 70%

1982: 50%

1983: 50%

1984: 50%

1985: 50%

1986: 50%

1987: 38.5%

1988: 33%

1989: 33%

1990: 33%

1991: 31%

1992: 31%

1993: 39.6%

1994: 39.6%

1995: 39.6%

1996: 39.6%

1997: 39.6%

1998: 39.6%

1999: 39.6%

2000: 39.6%

2001: 39.1%

2002: 38.6%

2003: 35%

2004: 35%

2005: 35%

2006: 35%

2007: 35%

2008: 35%

2009: 35%

2010: 35%

2011: 35%

As you can see, the highest tax rate for individuals appears to have been 92% -- in tax years 1952 and 1953. The Brownlee 94% rate is a mystery at this point. However, I haven't checked corporate tax rates, etc., nor have I checked the actual statutes. Famspear (talk) 22:44, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
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