The Birth of a Monster – The 16th Amendment and the IRS

I will give you a list of dates and ask you to associate events with each date. December 25, July 4, April 15. You probably got three for three. Christmas, Independence Day, and the day that taxes are due.

This year, the IRS, generously allowed another 3 days until April 18. If you have not filed already, enjoy those three days while you can because it does not happen very often.

Benjamin Franklin once noted that we will always have two things – death and taxes. Are you aware that it took an amendment to the US Constitution to give birth to the federal income tax as we know it today?

The federal government adopted an income tax in 1894 that imposed a two percent tax on incomes over $4,000.00. In today’s dollars that would be $109,000.00. In 1895, the Supreme Court ruled the tax unconstitutional because it was not apportioned based on state population. Congress responded with the 16th amendment.

The 16th amendment is one sentence.

“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.”

The amendment was introduced in June 1909 and adopted by 2/3 of the House and Senate less than 30 days later in. Four years later, Delaware became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on February 3, 1913.

It was passed and ratified so quickly for one simple reason. Everyone expected someone else, particularly “the rich” to pay for everything.

What began as a simple two percent tax on incomes over what is today the equivalent of $109,000 has metastasized into the monstrosity that we have today. The tax code is nearly 75,000 pages long. There are more words in the tax code than in the entire Bible.

The tax code is so confusing that former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, attaches a letter to his tax return with the disclaimer that he has no idea if it is accurate or not. Here is an excerpt from his 2013 tax return letter.

“I have sent in our federal income tax and gift tax returns for 2013. As in prior years, it is important for you to know that I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate.”

An army of lobbyists swarms Capitol Hill searching for opportunities to slip seemingly innocuous language into legislation. Before anyone realizes it, the tax code just grew in size and complexity.

The current tax code and the IRS have become intrusive, invasive, and incomprehensible. We need to make dramatic changes in the way we fund our federal government.

It is time to enact a truly simple tax plan that will cut the size of the tax code to a few pages and practically eliminate the IRS. This can be done. The big question is will congress do it?

Signature-Donald E. Cole
Donald E. Cole
Common Sense from D.C. (Not Washington)

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