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104 Years of the Federal Income Tax: Then and Now

Back in April while many Americans were filing their federal income taxes, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) released information that enables American taxpayers to compare the 104-year history of the income tax. In addition to the chart below, here are the bullets from the ATR information release:

  • In 1913 the top marginal income tax bracket was 7% -- today it is 39.6%.
  • In 1913 the marginal income tax bracket range was 1% - 7%. Today the range is 10% - 39.6%.
  • In 1913 there were 400 pages in the tax code. Today there are 74,608 pages in the code.
  • In 1913 the family standard deduction was $98,425.45 in today’s dollars. The family standard deduction now is just $12,600.
  • When the income tax started in 1913, only 358,000 Americans had to file a 1040. Today 148,606,578 Americans file 1040s.

Putting the comparable numbers into context, Grover Norquist, president of ATR said:

"The American income tax is perhaps the most dramatic example of how government grows at the expense of liberty,"

And here's the ATR chart comparing the federal income tax in 1913 when it became law, thanks to the 16th Amendment, and today"


Take a second look at ATR's chart. The income tax may have started out as a plan to "tax the rich," but even at a top tax rate of 7%, it wasn't even much at "taxing the rich." So listen carefully when mostly liberal politicians say they only want to tax the rich.

For more information about Americans for Tax Reform, click here.


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