Happy Tax Day: The Original Income Tax Form 1040 Was Just Four Pages Long


Mark Perry posts this image of an original IRS 1040 form circa 1913:

Perry explains that there were only four pages to the original 1040 form, including a page of instructions. Today? The instructions alone for the 1040 form today number 189 pages. And that’s without the form.

More from Perry:

Individual income tax rates started at 1% in 1913, and the maximum marginal income tax rate was only 7% on incomes above $500,000 ($11.6 million in today’s dollars). The personal exemption was $3,000 for individuals ($69,500 in today’s dollars) and $4,000 for married couples ($92,700 in today’s dollars), meaning that very few Americans had to pay federal income tax since the average income in 1913 was only about $750.

We’ve come a long way on the income tax, and not in a good direction.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • SigFan

    Even that is about 3.5 pages too long.  It should be a postcard that says:

    Income ________
    Tax Due _______ 10% of Income

    The same rate and rules for everyone.  That is all.


    • $8194357

      10% X dead center…he..he..

    • Bat One

      Perfect!  And simple enough that even a Democrat could do his taxes.

      • $8194357

        May be the late great hanni?

        • Bat One

          Is he deceased?  I hadn’t noticed.

          • $8194357

            Just his memory and his ghost linger for me once in a while, Bat..

  • WOOF

    40% of Americans  file simple 1040 EZ or 1040A forms.

    There are corporate forces interested in not making it easy to file.
    Intuit has spent 9 million lobbying since 2008,
    what Intuit said in its investor report:

    face the risk of federal and state taxing authorities developing
    software or other systems to facilitate tax return preparation and
    electronic filing at no charge to taxpayers.

    The Free File Alliance has kept the federal government from being a direct competitor to Intuit’s tax offerings,

    What you get for filing those long forms and who gets it.

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    “40% of Americans  file simple 1040 EZ or 1040A forms.” Almost 50% of americans pay zero income tax and many get a check for free money.

    • WOOF

      So what.
      Blood from turnips Kevin.

  • Jst4sqk

    SigFan has the right idea but it should be sales tax…no income tax ever. Those who can shop at Neiman Marcus pay accordingly, the rest of us who end up at WalMart, K-Mart and Target; well you get the gist. Oh yeah, no wholesale exceptions, they get enough of a break on “deductions”!

    Can we say we are being ruled by big business? A legal entity that was just supposed to encourage investors and limit loss to how much you put up now has more rights than people do. WE THE PEOPLE object. They are not alive. Sorry, no room to list all the discrepancies between people and corporations. You get the idea.