There have been some unfortunate and dark days in American history, but what was the worst day?
Some obvious choices include December 7, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and September 11, when the terrorists launched their despicable attack.
Another option (somewhat tongue in cheek) might be January 20 since Republican partisans would say that’s the day that both Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama became President while Democratic partisans would say that’s the day Ronald Reagan became President.
But allow me to suggest that Yesterday, October 3, should be a candidate for America’s worst day.
Why? Because on this day in 1913, one of America’s worst Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, signed into law the Revenue Act of 1913, which imposed the income tax.
The law signed that day by President Wilson, to be fair, wasn’t that awful. The top tax rate was only 7 percent, the tax form was only 2 pages, and the entire tax code was only 400 pages. And a big chunk of the revenue actually was used to lower the tax burden on international trade (the basic tariff rate dropped form 40 percent to 25 percent).
But just as tiny acorns become large oak trees, small taxes become big taxes and simple tax codes become complex monstrosities. And that’s exactly what happened in the United States.
We now have a top tax rate of 39.6 percent, and it’s actually much higher than that when you include the impact of other taxes, as well as the pervasive double taxation of saving and investment.
And the relatively simply tax law of 1913 has metastasized into 74,000 pages of Byzantine complexity.
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