January 24, 1916: Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co

The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.

Albert Einstein


After spending a good part of yesterday working on my Federal income tax, I think that perhaps a national day of mourning would be an appropriate commemoration.  One hundred years ago, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the income tax. The vote was 8-0 with Justice McReynolds abstaining. Go here to read the text of the decision. Ironically, Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who would soon resign from the Court to be the Republican Standard Bearer for President in 1916, had opposed the income tax amendment as Governor of New York in 1910. 


The income tax was not an issue in the election of 1916.  Like most taxes initially, the income tax was designed to mpact the rich and leave untouched the vast bulk of the American population.  As late as 1940 only 7% of the population paid any income tax.  By 1944 that had risen to 64%.  Withholding came in during World War II as a “temporary” wartime measure. The tax code, at 74, 608 pages, one hundred and eighty-seven times its length a century ago, is almost certainly the most complicated tax code in the history of Man. At its current rate of expansion, the tax code will exceed 100,000 pages no later than the year 2050, and probably much sooner.

Mood music when paying Federal taxes:


Published in: on January 24, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 24, 1916: Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co  
%d bloggers like this: