Random facts about taxes to ease what may be a painful day

5:30 PM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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THE QUOTE

- Is often paraphrased as "nothing is certain but death and taxes."

- The actual quote: "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

- Benjamin Franklin wrote those words Nov. 13, 1789.

- The famous phrase was in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy.

- The full quote is: "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

THE EVOLUTION OF INCOME TAXES

Oct. 3, 1913, a day that will live in infamy. The Underwood Simmons Tariff Act created the income tax as we know it today, enabled by the earlier ratification of the 16th Amendment.

The 1040 Form that first year was four pages, taxing one percent of income between $20,000 and $50,000, graduated up to six percent for those making $500,000 or more in those days.

Deductions were simpler 90 years ago, for such things as interest paid, state and local taxes, losses in business, or arising from fires, storms or shipwreck.

The personal exemption back then was set at $3,000, meaning most Americans didn't have to pay anything. According to the Tax History Project, only two percent of American households had to pay income tax in its early years.

What changed? It was war on a scale the planet hadn't seen before.

World War I prompted lawmakers to expand the reach of the tax, but according to the history project, it didn't yet reach into the pockets of the middle class. The vast revenue needs of World War II was the next crisis to prompt lawmakers to widen the income tax's scope. In the words of one tax critic, it turned the monkey into a gorilla.

RANDOM TAX FACTS

- It costs $2.45 for the IRS to collect each $100 in taxes.

- 21 percent of paper returns have errors.

- 0.5 percent of e-file returns have errors.

- Aztecs used cocoa beans for money. One rabbit had a tax of of 4 cocoa beans.

MOST MISUSED TAX NUMBER

- The most misused Social Security number of all time was 078-05-1120.

- That was on a fake, display "Social Security" card put in wallets sold at Woolworth in 1938.

- The number belonged to the manufacturer's secretary, Hilda Schrader Whitcher.

- The sample card had no name on it and many confused it with their Social Security number.

- In all, at least 40,000 people used Hilda's number on their taxes.

TAX FIRSTS

- First income tax: 1404 in England. It was so hated that parliament burned all records of it.

- First U.S. income tax: 1862, the federal government was raising money for the Civil War.

- First permanent U.S. income tax: 1913. Part of the 16th amendment.

PRESIDENTIAL TAXES

- Barack Obama, 2010: declared $1,728,096 in income. Paid $453,770 in taxes.

- Joe Biden, 2010: declared $ 379,178 in income. Paid $ 86,626 in taxes.

- Barack Obama, 2009: declared $ 5,505,409 in income. Paid $ 1,792,414 in taxes.

- Joe Biden, 2009: declared $ 333,182 in income. Paid $ 71,147 in taxes.

- Barack Obama, 2008: declared $2,656,902 in income. Paid $855,323 in taxes. 

- Joe Biden, 2008: declared $269,256 in income. Paid $58,116 in taxes.

- Barack Obama, 2007: declared $4,238,165 in income. Paid $1,396,772 in taxes.

- George W. Bush, 2007: declared $923,807 in income. Paid $221,635 in taxes.

- Dick Cheney, 2007: declared $3.04 million in income. Paid $602,651 in taxes.

- George W. Bush, 2006: declared $760,000 in income. Paid $186,000 in taxes.

- George W. Bush, 2003: declared $822,000 in income. Paid $227,000 in taxes.

- George W. Bush, 2000: declared $744,682 in income. Paid $240,000 in taxes.

- Dick Cheney, 2006: declared $1.6 million. Paid $413,000 in taxes.

- Dick Cheney, 2003: declared $1.2 million in income. Paid $253,067 in taxes.

- Dick Cheney, 2000: declared $36 million in income. Paid $14.3 million in taxes.

- Bill Clinton, 1999: declared $416,000 in adjusted income. Paid $92,000 in taxes.

- George H.W. Bush, 1991: declared $1.3 million in income. Paid $204,000 in taxes.

- Ronald Reagan, 1987: declared $345,000 in income. Paid $86,000 in taxes.

- Jimmy Carter, 1979: declared $195,000 in income. Paid 64,000 in taxes.

PETER THE GREAT: A TAX MACHINE

- Some things he taxed were:

- Beards.

- Births.

- Burials.

- Chimneys.

- Souls (meaning people on your estate).

- Peter the Great levied extensive taxes to pay for his reign and to westernize Russia.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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