• Larry McClanahan

1913 Form 1040 and the Birth of a Permanent US Income Tax

Oh, for the old days when US income taxes were much lower and filing your return was much simpler, right?

Did you know that Congress first imposed a personal income tax in 1861 to help pay for the American Civil War? Aside from the war, back then US government operations were mostly funded through excise taxes, tariffs, customs duties, and public land sales.

It wasn't until the Revenue Act of October 1913 that a US income tax became a permanent fixture. That legislation put into action the Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution (authorization to levy income tax) which was passed in 1909 and ratified in early 1913.

Enough of the history lesson. Check out this first 1913 Form 1040 income tax return, a mere four pages long including instructions.

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Ever wonder what happens to your income tax return once you file with the IRS? Check out this Taxpayer Roadmap (click image for larger more readable pdf).