Today we get our final reminder about an anniversary most of us would like to forget: 100 straight years of paying income tax.
You won’t find people lining up for a party, given Uncle Sam makes no bones about what he wants – our cash. The man with the tall hat even supplies forms telling us how big of a shakedown is needed to fill his pockets. The ransom note warns that if you don’t comply by 11:59 tonight, he’ll come looking for you.
The idea for an income tax was signed into law in 1913 by President William Howard Taft, an Ohioan who, incidentally, is the only known U.S. president to get stuck in a White House bath tub. (Taft weighed 350 pounds, and staff members used butter to free him. Taft’s friends from college called him “Big Lub.”)
Suffice to say, the system we began with in 1913 and the one we have today are two different animals. For instance:
• The tax code debuted at 400 pages in 1913. Today, it consists of more than 70,000 pages.
• There were only seven tax brackets in 1913, ranging from 7 percent on income above $500,000 (equivalent to about $10 million in today’s dollars) to 1 percent on income below $20,000.
• The first tax form and instruction were done in four pages. Today, more than 1 million accountants are hired each year to help people navigate through at least 480 forms.
• In 1913, people would receive their tax bill at the end of the year. That changed during World War II. The government needed a more consistent stream of income to fund the war, so it began withholding money from weekly paychecks.
Here are a few other things to chew on:
Count 'em …
• The Bible has about 700,000 words. The number of words in the federal Tax Code: 3,700,000.
• In 2007, the IRS reported 99.3 millions taxpayers called, wrote or walked into an IRS office for help. That is roughly one in three Americans.
• The top 10 percent of wage earners are expected to pay 68 percent of the income tax collected during 2013. The bottom 50 percent of wage earners are expected to pay 13 percent of income tax.
Places we call home …
• The seven states that do not have a state income tax are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
• If you're going to inhale a pack of cigarettes today while doing your taxes, be glad you don't live in one of the top five states for sin taxes on cigarettes: Rhode Island ($3.46), New York ($2.75), New Jersey ($2.70), Hawaii ($2.60), and Wisconsin ($2.52). New York City is the most expensive place in the U.S. to buy cigarettes because it adds a city tax ($1.50) onto the state tax, which results in a combined tax of $4.25.
And justice for all …
Today is the day when that guy wearing the green, awful-looking Statue of Liberty costume finally wins. Many of the people who have snickered at him as they drove past on Allentown Road now will be viewing him as some sort of savior: tax-deadline day’s last resort for dealing with earned income credits and alternative minimum taxes.
ROSES AND THORNS: An extra big crowd in the rose garden this week.
Rose: To John VonSossan, who retired after 27 years as the girls basketball coach at Fort Jennings, winning a state title in 2000.
Rose: The Lima Explosion basketball team was heavily featured Saturday in the New York Times in a story that focused on the struggling ABA basketball league. A Times reporter and photographer was in Lima during March.
Rose: To Randy Jones, of RD Jones Excavating in Harrod. He was so impressed with a safety seminar he attended that he paid $3,000 to bring the man to his place of business. Jones also invited Allen County employees to take part free of charge.
Rose: To Frank Cage, of Lima. His graphic design business is one of the first businesses to fully utilize the Walter C. Potts Entrepreneur Center.
Rose: To Tim McComas and Steve Newman, who were honored as Volunteers of the Year by the American Red Cross of Lima.
Rose: To Josh Hamilton, of Pandora, who was honored for the second time as one of “Stefanie’s Champions,” an award given in memory of Stefanie Spielman, the wife of former Ohio State and NFL great Chris Spielman,
Rose: To Elaine Mikesell, of Wapakoneta. Her idea is featured today in the nationally syndicated comic “Pluggers.” (Page D3).
Thorn: A live hand grenade was discovered in the bushes of a home on the 400 block of Court Street in Wapakoneta.
Thorn: A vandal cut through a fence of the Wapakoneta school bus parking area and slashed 30 tires on 24 school buses, causing nearly $15,000 in damages. A safe bet is once he or she is caught, we'll see a sobbing face in court. Roses to Miller Brothers and RRR tire services as well as St. Marys Schools for assisting with replacement tires.
Thorn: To John Coleman, who was removed from his job as warden of the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution for allegedly racially insensitive remarks.
Thorn: Another area teacher has been arrested for attempting to have sexual conduct with a student. If Gary Jones, 59, of Lima City Schools is guilty, let's hope he admits to his crime quickly and doesn't drag the student or school system through a trial, as did Jeremy Stober, of Kalida school, and Whitney Chiles, of Lima schools.
Thorn: A drunken man was found Thursday wandering around the road construction at Harding Highway and Interstate 75.
PARTING SHOT: “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” — Albert Einstein.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. To suggest a rose or thorn, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him at The Lima News,3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 4805.