History of the Income Tax

The federal progressive income tax has been an issue that has been argued on the floors of Congress, in front of the United States Supreme Court, in front of television cameras, and around the dinner table.The tax served its purpose in supplementing revenue during the Civil War and World War I, but continued taking from Americans' income in peacetime, allowing fewer dollars to be spent on goods and services.When the American government was in a deficit, it was harder to argue for the abolishment of the income tax, but now that Congress is looking at a government surplus for thefirst time in decades, the question is raised again:Do we have to have a progressive federal income tax?
Prior to the Civil War, the vast majority of government funds came from tariffs on imports.The only exception was during the War of 1812, when blockades by the British, as well as the war being with the young country's number one trade partner, lowered income from tariffs.Government revenues were accompanied by funds from the sale of public lands, such as the Louisiana Territory and the Oregon Country, as well as excise taxes, which were introduced during the War of 1812 (Hansen 62).
As Abraham Lincoln, who once said "that he had no money sense and never enough money to fret him, came into office with a national debt of nearly $75 million and
little to no inflow of customs duties, as well as an outflow of investments to foreign countries by investors who feared war.After attempts to raise money by selling bonds, doubling tariffs, increasing excise taxes, and creating license fees, it was realized that another form of tax was needed (Paul 7-8, Witte 67).
The details of the tax, however, were not agreed on easily.The tax was originally proposed to tax land in each state, with revenue to be handed out according to population.The idea of this tax created a "congressional rebellion," led by the South and West,…

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