Monday, April 29, 2013

Income Tax Irony

History and politics are full of ironies. One of my favorites is the income tax. The majority of the Federal income taxes collected in America is in the North and from states that are generally considered Democratic leaning. Much of the wealth in our nation is still in the North. Yet, most of the complaining about taxes comes from the conservatives and/or Republicans ... the South.

In 2007 numbers, California and New York (Texas and Florida being next) paid the most taxes for obvious reasons, they are huge. Because of this per capita numbers make more sense to use in this discussion. The highest tax payers per capita are all Northern states (in order Delaware, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island).  The opposite is true as well, the lowest tax payer per capita are Southern states and/or a Republican states (in order West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina and Montana).

Those who complain the most, pay the least. Something to think about the next time a tornado wipes out a trainer park in the South and FEMA comes to the rescue.  The North is paying for it and the South is complain about it.

The further irony here is that if it were not for the South attempting to secede from the Union, there would be no income tax.  President Lincoln introduced the Federal Income tax to pay for the Civil War.  At the time only the wealthy were taxed and it was public information. Anyone could find out how much you paid by checking public records. The Confederacy also instituted an income tax but had difficulty collecting (imagine that). After the war, the income tax was declared unconstitutional in the 1890's.  We went 30 years without a Federal income tax. The government's main source of income were tariffs. The problem with tariffs is that they are not very stable during war time because ports are no longer safe.

The nation needed a revenue source to pay for World War I, so we made it constitutional by passing the 16th Amendment in 1913. We have a Federal income tax ever since.  Up until the George W. Bush administration, war was usually a good excuse to raise taxes.  He was the first President to actually cut taxes during war time (for his two wars).  I guess you could call it ironic that Republics complain about Obama's spending after the debacle of the Bush years, but that isn't ironic, that is just politics ... and a little bit of stupidity.

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