Some tax history
If you've wondered why April 15 is the deadline (in all but two states), here's some information from Sandi Duncan writing in the Farmers’ Almanac:
When the 16th Amendment, which allowed Congress to institute an income tax, was adopted on Feb. 3, 1913, Congress actually chose March 1 as the deadline for filing returns.
When the Revenue Act of 1918 was passed, the date was changed to March 15 (reason unknown).
In 1955, in addition to many tax-code revisions, the date for when taxes were due changed to April 15. Many sources say this change was because at that time the government had to pay more refunds, so it wanted more time to hold on to the money.
By law, the government must mail your refund within 45 days or pay interest.
Would you believe?
The Farmers’ Almanac also features a list of strange taxes that have been imposed in times past in “10 Strange and Wacky Taxes Throughout History” by Amber Kanuckel. We’ve condensed a few of them here. Visit the Farmers’ Almanac online to see them all.
• The Window Tax
In the 1700s, Great Britain needed to collect taxes on the wealthy without it looking that way. So they taxed windows. The logic: poor people only had one or two windows in their homes while the rich sometimes had dozens of windows in their larger homes.
• Wallpaper Tax
Another attempt by the English to creatively tax the wealthy: a 1712 tax on printed wallpaper. It resulted in the hanging of plain wallpaper — with a design painted on later.
• Texas Belt Buckle Tax
In Texas, there is an extra tax on belt buckles. All other cowboy gear— belt, boots, hat, and the rest — isn’t subject to extra taxes. But Lone Star State law declares the belt buckle itself an accessory, not essential clothing, and subject to an additional 6.25% sales tax.
• A True “Gas” Tax
Studies say methane released from cows may cause up to 18 percent of Europe’s greenhouse gasses, so several countries impose a tax on farmers. Denmark ranks highest — each flatulent cow costs farmers as much as $110.
Sources: The Farmers’ Almanac; the Internal Revenue Service