Original income tax form from 1913

In 1913, Wyoming ratified the 16th Amendment, providing the three-quarter majority of states necessary to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax. That same year, the first Form 1040 appeared after Congress levied a 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with a 6 percent surtax on incomes of more than $500,000.

— A Brief History of the IRS

It's February. Tax season is in full swing. Employers, banks, and investment firms have mailed out W-2s and 1099s and other miscellaneous tax documents. These are beginning to pile up on kitchen tables across the country. Over the next few weeks people will sit down to puzzle out their tax situation.

The tax code has become enormously complex. It can be difficult to be sure you're following all of the proper instructions. (I used to do my own taxes, but once I started my own business I handed them over to my accountant. I figure $200 is a small price to pay to be sure all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted.)

The income tax didn't used to be so complicated. When Congress re-introduced it in 1913, taxpayers filled out a simple three page form following one page of instructions. The IRS web site has the entire form available in PDF. I've reproduced it here as a series of JPEGs.



The four pages of the 1913 income tax form. Click on a page to see it full-sized.

This is a fun form to peruse. There are some great archaisms here, including discussion of “losses occurred during shipwreck”, provisions for mine owners, and detailed instructions for how farmers are supposed to figure income on wool and hides of slaughtered animals.

I wonder if there's any hope that the 2007 income tax form will have tax deductions for bloggers.

More about...Taxes

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Trent
Trent
13 years ago

I have a 1914 form filled out in my great great grandfather’s handwriting; he filled out his forms in duplicate for sensible reasons. It was filled out with a city name that no longer exists.

Henry @ Binary Dollar
Henry @ Binary Dollar
13 years ago

Wow. No wonder taxes are complicated now. They STARTED out complicated.

dimes
dimes
13 years ago

Geez, compared to what we have today, that’s a piece of cake.
I suppose the 2007 tax form would have deductions for bloggers IFF you operate your blog as a business and take the appropriate deductions on the schedule C. However, unless you’re actually turning a profit, the IRS will view it (and correctly, in my opinion) as a hobby, which isn’t deductible.

Moon
Moon
13 years ago

I wonder how many people made over $3000 in 1913. Doesn’t seem like a lot of money.

Moon
Moon
13 years ago

I meant that it SEEMS like a lot of money for the year!

MaxP
MaxP
7 years ago
Reply to  Moon

@Moon – Very few, that’s why the Amendment passed, it was sold as only a tax on the rich. Where have we heard that before?

Erich Mosgrove
Erich Mosgrove
7 years ago

Use your finances wisely by tracking every business expense. This includes car mileage related to your business and internet service. Most of the expenses of running your business are tax deductible for business owners. Even though the amount seems small, it can quickly add up. You shouldn’t have to give the government all of the money that you worked hard to earn.

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