Income Taxes – a brief history

taxesAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

On APRIL 15, 1865, President Lincoln died. He was shot the night before in Ford’s Theater.

On APRIL 15, 1912, the Titanic sank. It struck an iceberg the night before.

In 1954, APRIL 15 became the deadline for filing Income tax returns.

Though the Constitution banned a Federal Income Tax (Art.1,Sec.9), Lincoln passed an emergency income tax to pay for the Civil War.

It was repealed in 1873.

An income tax was attempted in 1894, but the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in Pollock v Farmers’ Loan.

With World War I threatening, Democrat Woodrow Wilson thought ending tariff taxes on imports between countries would bring world peace.

As tariffs were the main source of revenue for the Federal Government, Wilson proposed replacing it with an income tax, passed in 1913 with the 16th Amendment.

Originally, it was just a one percent tax on the top one percent richest people, intended only to ‘soak-the-rich’ of the likes of industrialists Rockefeller and Carnegie.

They avoided the tax by moving their money into tax-free foundations, such as the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Foundation.

In 1942, with World War II, Franklin Roosevelt increased and expanded the Federal Income Tax with “the greatest tax bill in American history,” and instituted paycheck withholding.

John F. Kennedy stated April 20, 1961:

“In meeting the demands of war finance, the individual income tax moved from a selective tax imposed on the wealthy to the means by which the great majority of our citizens participate in paying.”

Kennedy explained, April 20, 1961:

“Withholding…on wages and salaries…[was]…introduced during the war when the income tax was extended to millions of new taxpayers.”

As businesses became subject to:

paying higher taxes;
paying higher wages & benefits;
more lawsuits;
more environmental restrictions;
and more governmental bureaucracy,
along with political favoritism to some companies over others,

many businesses faced the alternative of going out of the country or going out of business.

Over time, the trend of outsourcing to stay competitive in the global marketplace diminished patriotic attachments and gave rise to financial globalists.

John F. Kennedy noticed, February 6, 1961:

“I have asked the secretary of the treasury to report on whether present tax laws may be stimulating in undue amounts the flow of American capital to the industrial countries abroad.”

Kennedy told Congress, April 20, 1961:

“In those countries where income taxes are lower than in the United States, the ability to defer the payment of U.S. tax by retaining income in the subsidiary companies provides a tax advantage for companies operating through overseas subsidiaries that is not available to companies operating solely in the United States.”

To remedy this, Kennedy proposed a stimulus plan of lowering taxes on everyone, January 17, 1963:

“Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government.”

Kennedy stated, November 20, 1962:

“It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now…

Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”

John F. Kennedy stated in his Annual Message, January 21, 1963:

“In today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarges the Federal deficit – why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues…

It is no contradiction – the most important single thing we can do to stimulate investment in today’s economy is to raise consumption by major reduction of individual income tax rates.”

JFK mentioned in his Message to Congress on Tax Reduction, January 24, 1963:

“Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort-thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”

On September 18, 1963, JFK stated in a national radio and TV address:

“A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced Federal budget.

Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education, and investment.”

“A tax cut” was Kennedy’s proposal to create jobs, making it more profitable for businesses to be located here in America than there overseas, as he continued:

“Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the Federal Government will ultimately end up with more revenues…

Prosperity is the real way to balance our budget. Our tax rates are so high today that the growth of profits and pay checks in this country have been stunted.

Our tax revenues have been depressed and our books for out of the last 10 years have been in the red.

By lowering tax rates, by increasing jobs and income, we can expand tax revenues and bring finally our budget into balance.”

Soviet Communist Vladimir Lenin wanted to remove threats to his centralized government by eliminating middle-class business owners, called “bourgeoisie”:

“The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”

President Reagan disagreed, stating in 1988:

“I believe God did give mankind unlimited gifts to invent, produce and create.

And for that reason it would be wrong for governments to devise a tax structure that suppresses those gifts.”


The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.


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