TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tax Like It Is July 4, 1776

1776Wall Street Journal op-ed:  What Life Was Like in 1776, by Thomas Fleming (Former President, Society of American Historians; Author, What America Was Really Like in 1776 (2012)):

Americans [in 1776] had the highest per capita income in the civilized world, paid the lowest taxes—and were determined to keep it that way. ...

In the northern colonies, according to historical research, the top 10% of the population owned about 45% of the wealth. In some parts of the South, 10% owned 75% of the wealth. But unlike most other countries, America in 1776 had a thriving middle class.

Tax Foundation:  Tax Facts for Independence Day 2013:

Taxpayers across the country will celebrate the 237th anniversary of American independence on July 4th this year. As students of history will remember, one of the chief complaints of the American colonists against the British government in 1776 was unfair and burdensome taxation (including 18th century tax breaks for big business). With that in mind, the Tax Foundation presents a few facts for Independence Day that highlight the changing American tax system.

  • Top marginal income tax rate in 1913, the first year the modern income tax was levied:  7%
  • Inflation-adjusted annual income to qualify for the top rate in 1913: $11,595,657
  • Top marginal rate for tax year 2013:  39.6%
  • Minimum income needed to be subject to top rate in 2013: $400,000
  • Highest-ever marginal tax income rate: 94% (1944-45) ...
  • Share of all federal income taxes paid by the top 1% in 2010: 37.38%
  • Percentage of federal income taxes paid by the bottom 50% of all taxpayers in 1980: 7.05%
  • Percentage of federal income taxes paid by the bottom 50% of all taxpayers in 2010: 2.36%

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The pictured Fleming book, "What America Was Really Like in 1776," is listed on Amazon only as a Kindle edition, with 22 pages.

Fleming was born in 1927, so this edition may be based on his 1975 book "1776: Year of Illusions" (2.1 pounds of paper and ink, according to Amazon).

Posted by: Bob | Jul 4, 2013 8:58:07 AM