Friday, February 21, 2014

Interesting Facts About Taxes

- The word “tax” is from the Latin word “taxo”, meaning “I estimate.”
- The number of words in Atlas Shrugged is 645,000. The Bible has about 700,000 words. The number of words in the Federal Tax Code: 3,700,000.
- Excise taxes are also called “sin taxes.” They are taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and gambling.
- Roman emperor Vespasian placed a tax on urine in the 1st century A.D. Urine at that time was collected and used as a source of ammonia for tanning hides and laundering garments.
- A window tax in England eventually led to health problems 19.  In 1691, England taxed the number of windows on a house. Consequently, houses began to be built with very few windows or people would close up existing windows. When people began to suffer health problems from lack of windows/air, the tax was finally repealed in 1851.
- Russian Emperor Peter the Great placed a tax on beards in 1705. He hoped that the tax would encourage men to have a clean-shaven look that was popular in Western Europe.
- Over 1 million accountants are hired each year in America to help with taxes.
- England has a tax on televisions. Color TVs are taxed more than black-and-white TVs. However, if a blind person has a television, he or she has to pay only half the tax.
- Americans spend over $27.7 billion every year doing their taxes.
- In Texas, cowboy boots are exempt from sales tax. Hiking books are not.
- Following Jimmy Carter, every U.S. president has released their tax returns.
- The first income tax in the U.S was imposed in July 1861 to help pay for the Civil War. In 1862, it was repealed and replaced with the tiered income tax. The current income tax system was made into law in 1913, before the start of WWI.
- There are at least 480 tax forms on the IRS website.
- In 2007, the IRS reported that 99,316,995 taxpayers called, wrote, or walked into an IRS office for help. That is roughly 1 in 3 Americans.
- Albert Einstein once said: “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”
- Alabama is the only state in the United States to impose a 10¢ playing card tax for decks of cards purchased in the state. In contrast, Nevada issues free decks of card with every tax return filed.
- In 2011, the IRS collected over $2.4 trillion from around 234 million tax returns (which included corporate, individual, and employment income tax returns). The IRS also provided approximately $416 billion in refunds.
- The IRS estimates that in 2007, Americans who didn’t pay their taxes collectively owed more than $345 billion in taxes.
- The Stamp Act of 1765 was the first tax imposed directly on the American colonies by England. The new tax required the American colonists pay a tax on every piece of printed paper they used.
- The most famous protest of taxation by the America colonies was the Boston Tea Party. On December 16, 1773, colonists dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act and other oppressive tax measures. They argued there should be no “taxation without representation.”
- WWII led to the creation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which later became the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS is the world’s largest accounting and tax-collection organization.
- In Britain, Lady Godiva made her famous au naturel ride as a tax protest.
- Cortez was able to defeat Montezuma largely because he incited a tax revolt among the peasants.
- England rose to power under Elizabeth the Great in large part because of her low tax policies. Concomitantly, Spain was losing power because of the onerous tax and religious policies of her brother-in-law, King Philip.
- According to one historian, plane geometry was not invented by Euclid but by ancient tax collectors who wanted to determine land size for harvest taxes.
- Newspapers have such large-sized sheets of paper because of a British 1816 tax on newspapers. The “knowledge tax” was levied by page. In response, newspapers started using larger paper size to accommodate more text, thereby reducing the number of pages taxed.
- In Switzerland, William Tell shot the apple off his son’s head as punishment for tax resistance.
- Over the entrance to the IRS building in Washington D.C. is a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.”
- When Americans started paying annual federal income tax in 1913, they would save money in anticipation of paying a lump sum to the federal government. It wasn’t until WWII, when the government needed a more consistent stream of income to fund the war, that taxes started being withheld from paychecks.
- The Cayman Islands do not impose income or property taxes on its citizens. Instead it raises money through import and export taxes, tourist fees, work permit fees, and transaction fees.
- The largest tax evasion case in the history of the U.S. is the 2006 case of Walter Anderson, a telecommunications executive. Other famous tax cheats include mobster Al Capone, Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, Wesley Snipes, and hotel operator Leona Helmsley, who once quipped, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

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