The history of tax day is rather interesting. Did you know that income taxes are a relatively new thing? It wasn’t until the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 that income taxes were collected. The first ever “Tax Day” was March 1, 1914–a little over a year after the 16th Amendment went into effect. Interestingly enough, income taxes were collected a few other times in American history. They were first collected in 1862 during the Civil War, and only lasted until 1872. Why? The Supreme Court ruled that collecting income taxes was unconstitutional! So why the change of heart by the Supreme Court? And why is April 15 (usually) Tax Day in the United States?
Beginnings of Tax Day in History
Believe it or not, there was a lot of support for an income tax to be levied. After the Supreme Court put the kibosh on income tax collection in 1894, supporters rallied and had the Sixteenth Amendment ratified almost 20 years later. Homer S. Cummings, chairman of the Democratic National Committee at the time, claimed that the income tax was among one of the greatest achievements of the Democratic Party. But that’s a debate for another time and place.
Why April 15th?
As for the April 15 day for collecting taxes, it is rumored that because income taxes were only paid by the very wealthy, they needed to be collected at a time which was most convenient for them. And because most of them typically left their homes for lengthy summer vacations in late spring/early summer, the IRS Commissioner determined that taxes should be assessed before the wealthy left town. So it began–the assessment of taxes early in the year. It was initially assessed in March, but through several different acts of congress over the last century, the date was moved to April 15 in 1955. This helped the IRS to spread out the workload as more and more middle class families were issued refunds.
Tax Day 2016
This year, the deadline to file taxes is actually a little later–April 18. For more information on this year’s tax season, visit the IRS website. You can get information on changes in tax laws, and you can also view some of the tax extenders for 2015.
There you have it–the history of Tax Day. Although it may not exactly be the most riveting subject, the evolution of income taxes and how and when they are assessed has played a vital role on the history of our country.