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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

April 15, 2013 at 6:15 AM

It’s tax day and the 100th birthday of the 1040 form

Americans have until midnight tonight to turn over a percentage of their incomes to the government. Not exactly something to break open the Champagne bottle over, but there are cheers from students in Mr. Haynes’ history class at JFK Middle School in Florence, Mass. They knew something few of us knew, or would think to acknowledge when they sent birthday cards to to the Internal Revenue Service. This year is the 100th year of the 1040 form. Happy Birthday 1040!

To grasp how far the U.S. tax code has come, the first 1040 form in 1913 was a single page. The federal tax code today extends 73,000 pages. Back then, only 3 percent of the American population had to pay Uncle Sam, today it’s 54 percent.

More history, including that “shipwreck” was at one time a deduction, was part of this excellent CBS Sunday Morning piece.

Taxes have been around since the beginning of civilization. The conversation around taxes is not just about who must pay, but who should but does not. Action film actor Wesley Snipes just got out of jail after three years in prison for not paying his taxes. And the Boston Globe cites a new study by the National Taxpayer Advocate that found potential tax cheats identified by the IRS live mainly in the South and the West. The study used confidential IRS data and included  small-business owners.

History is full of tax resisters and protesters, the latter included most famously, Mohandas Ghandi disobeying the British salt production and laws.  And this Washington Post piece topples the greatest myths about taxes.

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