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100 years of the U.S. income tax

February 7, 2013


In our own ways we’re all celebrating the 100th anniversary of the modern U.S. income tax, or the ratification of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution:

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

President Obama and Senator Harry Reid say we need to raise revenue from income taxes even higher. They’re no longer hiding their political rhetoric behind vain quips claiming not to raise taxes “one thin dime.” Sort of hard to make those claims after folks receive their first paychecks of the year and wonder why they’re smaller than December’s paycheck.

One friend called the other day and told me he had received a $2,000 raise! Yes! His January paycheck was a grand total of 12-cents higher! I suggested he not spend all his new wealth in one place.

Latest numbers out of Washington say the economy slipped into negative territory the 4th quarter of last year with GDP dropping to minus .1 percent growth. GDP or Gross Domestic Product is the market value of all officially recognized goods and services produced during a given time period. It’s more or less the best marker for how well our economy is doing, so when it goes negative we know the economy is not doing so well.

Our economy is not doing well, and President Obama wants to raise taxes. Spending under Obama has skyrocketed while revenue is just beginning to rise again. According to CBO’s report for December, individual income tax receipts were up $42 billion during October-December, 15.6 percent higher than the 4th quarter of 2011. Overall receipts rose nearly 11 percent in 2012.

However, Washington is continuing to spend $1 trillion-plus more every year than we receive in revenue. President Obama insists we don’t have a spending problem, in fact he gets angry when people continue to say we have a spending problem. He says we’re not taxing people enough. His fiscal policies, which have raised our national debt $6 trillion, are akin to the saying, “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”

When the economy does poorly, then unemployment stays high, last month rising to 7.9 percent after a small decline last year. This is the new norm for unemployment. Trillion dollar deficits are the new norm in Washington. Raising taxes and increasing wasteful government spending (as opposed to cutting waste and fraud out of federal spending) is the new norm in Washington.

Only a small number of Americans keep up with or really care what goes on in Washington because most don’t believe we can do anything about the corruption there or that DC corruption has much effect on our daily lives.

Half of American households will be paying income taxes in the coming weeks, and half will be receiving “refunds” or more money than was taken out of their paychecks last year. And, some will just get more money from Uncle Sam and never wonder where that money came from or even care it came out of their neighbor’s wallet.

That’s the beauty of the income tax: if you have income, the government will tax it; if you don’t have income, the government will give you money.

Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. Contact him at

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