The very first income tax was levied in 1861 in order to finance the Civil War, with the federal Congress passing legislation the following year creating the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the precursor to today's Internal Revenue Service. The new agency put excise taxes on many products but the income tax was not popular and it was repealed in 1872, only to return again after the turn of the century.
However, the new tax rates had a very minimal effect on the lowest earners and was sold as a means of collecting the most money from the highest earners.
"The Revenue Act of 1916 began the practice of adjusting tax rates and income scales," says this historical explainer.
"The original income tax was 1% for the bottom bracket, which was comprised of income up to $20,000, and 7% for the top bracket, which was comprised of income over $500,000. The Revenue Act raised the top bracket to $2,000,000 and raised the tax rates to 2% for the bottom bracket and to 25% for the top bracket rate," it added.
Fast-forward decades and the next thing you know, income taxes consume a greater portion of our income than ever imagined, including from lower earners. And now, because what's past is prologue, the Marxists running our government today are using a century-old playbook to reimpose new taxes on all Americans.
In recent interviews, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is trying to sell a major new tax measure introduced by the Biden regime and championed by his Democrat minions in Congress. It is ostensibly designed as a 'tax on the wealthy,' and where have we heard that before?
"Democrats are scrambling to finance their spending bill after Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema shot down their plans to raise corporate and individual income-tax rates. Thank you, Senator. But now Democrats are reaching deep into their grab-bag of revenue tricks and may pull out a wealth tax on 'billionaires,'" a Wall Street Journal editorial noted this week, adding:
Nancy Pelosi confirmed on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that the Democrats’ spending bill will probably “have a wealth tax.” Give the Speaker credit for candor. The Biden Administration is pretending that Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s plan to tax unrealized capital gains of “billionaires” is something else.
“It’s not a wealth tax, but a tax on unrealized capital gains of exceptionally wealthy individuals,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen tried to explain, and painfully so, in recent days.
"The Treasury gig hasn’t been good for her reputation. But she certainly knows that a tax on unrealized capital gains is a de facto wealth tax, which would be levied on property rather than income," the WSJ editorial noted further.
The editorial cited an example -- multi-billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Under the plan, if his Beverly Hills estate manages to appreciate in value by 10 percent next year, he'll pay a tax on the increased value, and likewise for his holdings in the company he founded. At present, assets are only taxed in that manner when they are sold -- when income is actually earned.
"Democrats claim the tax will only hit some 700 uber-rich Americans with more than $1 billion in assets or who have more than $100 million in income for three consecutive years. That’s what they always say," the WSJ's editorial board noted further.
In fact, these taxes are going to be much broader than Democrats will ever admit, because they can't admit it: Their plan would go down in flames. So they have to lie about it.
What's more, raising these kinds of taxes led some European countries to repeal them when they saw the uber-wealthy flee, leaving those governments with less overall tax revenue, not more. That would happen in America, too.
Finally, the paper says, such a tax might even be illegal: "The Constitution says Congress can only impose 'direct taxes' that are 'apportioned among the several states' according to population. While the Sixteenth Amendment authorized Congress to tax 'incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment,' unrealized capital gains aren’t income," the paper said.
Democrats lie about taxes -- they always have, and they always will.