U.S. citizens: paying out since 1862

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Every year, Mississippi residents anticipate that looming April 15 deadline to file federal and state income taxes. Of course there are six-month extensions for those who qualify, but for some, April 15 is a day of dread. Unless you’re getting a refund, then it might be a time of celebration.

But how did income taxes and the April 15 deadline come to be?

According to the Library of Congress, in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln was the first president to sign into law an income based tax to help pay war expenses. The law was repealed in 1872 due to public opposition.

The income tax was revived in 1894 with the Wilson Tariff Act, but was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1895. It wasn’t until 1913 with the ratification of the 16th Amendment that federal income tax became law.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, medical and investment expense deductions were introduced in 1942 and standard deductions on Form 1040 were created in 1944.

Starting with President Harry Truman and continuing with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the tax system underwent a reorganization, which included establishing the IRS as career civil service system and changing the name from Bureau of Internal Revenue to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the IRS.

The Library of Congress states that in 1954, the deadline of April 15 was established. From 1913 – 1918, the deadline was March 1 and from 1918 –1954, the deadline was March 15.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed significant tax legislation, called the Tax Reform Act, into law. According to the IRS, the act contained 300 provisions and took three years to implement.

While I have researched the Tax Reform Act of 1986, I couldn’t begin to explain all the benefits. I also don’t understand half of it because as Albert Einstein once said, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”