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Tue Feb 6, 2018, 12:19 PM

American Income Tax - Detailed History

A worthy bookmarkable article written in 2010 and relevant today.

Recent tax cuts are beyond irresponsible, but play right into the hand of the Freedom Caucus aka Tea Party aka Libertarians aka Koch Brothers Et al (all cover names for John Birch Society - detailed proof here:

The article below is Copy/pasted in full with permission from original author. Go to original doc to access links

Again, if you want access to linked citings referenced below, go to the original document linked above. The article(s) were written by a citizen journalist and not perfect; however the information is a very helpful information resource.


This report provides a one-stop resource for viewing US TAX History, a reference document.

There are two versions below. The first is mandatory for understanding the issue(s):

1. JUST SHORT OF THE WEEDS, for a relatively concise overview/history; and, for an in depth walk through of US tax rate history, you will find


Words in the color orange (original doc) are links to sources.
The purposes for this diary are to review the Taxation History in order to understand:

The history of progressive taxation AND it's demise;
The history of taxation for Singles and Heads of Household;
The history of taxation for highest earners; and
How we will be affected if the Bush tax cuts sunset? if they continue?
Also, this diary has been prepared for those who are looking for some research to include in their own writing, so please, feel free to use any/all to do so.


I will share that I have been studying our tax rate history since the above-referenced Tax History was released earlier this week. You are welcome, heh.

Armed with pesky facts, it became apparent that the Tax news this week has ranged from vague, somewhat misleading, to being outright wrong which prompted me to write this diary a couple of days ago:

Tax Cuts: Congress Playing Liar's Poker: Robbers, Liars, Thieves

I also found the tax history for the highest earners quite curious and published this diary.

Tax Cuts: Brilliant Analysis! End Tax Holiday for Rich!

Who would have guessed that Reagan Et Al gave the highest earners a 50% Tax Holiday, and that Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II continued Reagan's Tax Holiday for the Rich? And, really, why is no one mentioning that for the entire Tax History prior to Reagan, that the average tax rate for the highest wage earners was 70%!
In the process of writing the above two diaries, a strange reality came to light.

Specifically, that Singles and, and to some degree but not as bad, Heads of Households (single moms/dads) have been paying a LOT more in taxes than those Married Filing Jointly.

It began in 1955, but jumped to 13%+ more than marrieds at the same time in history that Welfare Queens were in the news during the Reagan Administration.

The timing and questionably legality launched this investigation of the issue.
And, yes, I know it's nagged us Single tax payers on some distant level for a while; however:

With our new 'thin margin' lifestyles, rising costs, and pending mandatory health care expenses isn't it time to clean this issue up?

Really, I can't even imagine the Tea Baggers objecting to an EQUAL and FAIR Tax for All NOW (EFTAN, not too bad an acronym).

If you have a chance, take a peak, do a couple of questimates of how the unfair tax affects your bottom line, and help spread the word, K?

Before we launch forward, there are

Some important FACTS to help you discern facts from fiction while watch the Partisan Presentations on the news and as you read this diary.

As this recently published 2009 Wage Analysis clearly provies

99% of wage earners have used a tax table since 1980 that has only 3-4 tax brackets. It's already simple, albeit unfair and unduly punitive to Singles. So much for that Meme spewed today by the GOP. A non-issue.
In 2009, only 1% of wage earners earn $250,000 or more. Not 2% !
The Median Income in America has hovered around $25,000 since the 1980s. In 2009 it was just under $26,000. This means 50% earn less than $25,000 and 50% earn more. Actually
40% of American's earned less than $20,000/year;

50% earn less than $26,000/year; and

71% earn less than $42,000/year.

Most workers in America today barely make a living, are paying down debt, and are one major illness away from complete economic disaster.

The flat tax for most workers is between 15% and 28%, plus 7.65% FICA, history found here

FICA jumped hugely in the 1980's and 1990s to compensate for the boomers retirement, which is why Social Security is NOT IN trouble. That's a false flag, as the Liars, Crooks, and Thieves diary referenced above clearly points out.

50% of households earn under $50,000
The number of people in poverty in 2009 is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available. 1 in 4 Americans require food assistance: 17 Million!
MOST of the gains in the past ten years have gone to this 1%, while the median wage (50% make more, 50% make less) have only seen an increase of $384 in income since the 1980s
Top 1% Income Gains Highest Since 1920s
There are millions in America who will call what they are experiencing financially as bad as the Depression. The economists persist in calling this a Recession.

Whatever you call it, if it doesn't improve soon, many will join them as our economy keeps sliding down a cliff. Therefore,

Now, more than any other time since than the Depression, we need a truly progressive tax rate to maximize cash flow into the economy and minimize suffering for all.

And now is NOT the time to continue to punish Singles and Heads of Households.

Another measure that needs to be take off the table is a proposal to tax our employers contribution towards our health insurance premium. Tax the insurers, you know, the ones that pay their CEOs tens of millions of dollars a year.



An Historical Overview of The Tax Rates from 1913 - 2010:

This is a quick summary of a detailed tax rate presentation below.

From 1913 - 1948

Addressing both 1 - 2 above: Progressive Tax and Rates for Singles:

In the beginning, a truly progressive tax rate was in place that increased in small increments as earnings. increased. Everyone paid the same progressive rates on their earnings. The rates were lowest for low wage earners.

The progressive tax rate table was listed under the title "Married Filing Jointly"; however, it applied to all equally regardless of relationship status.

The tax rate for most workers was low; however, it remained under 4% until 1941.

In 1941, perhaps because of WWII, the progressive tax rate became less progressive. The lowest rate took a huge leap for everyone.

This is the first time the progressive tax rate isn't applied to all. The percentages listed below are the lowest rates on the tax table for the year indicated. In short, the poorest of the poor paid these high income tax rates. (Did this include soldiers fighting overseas):

13% in 1941
22% in 1942
25% in 1945
22% in 1946

24.6 in 1952 - For the first time, "Head of Household's" pay a different rate of tax. It is lower than the rates for "Married Filing Separately". Singles pay the same rate as the "Married Filing Separately". This doesn't last for long, however.

1955: Singles Punitive Tax Begins and continues to this day.

The degree of progressive taxation ebbs and flows before it ENDS in 1981; however, Singles are required to pay a higher rate on their income nearly every year since.

This issue never seems to get much attention probably because singles a smaller percentage of the population, perhaps less educated/engaged, and, quite often, lower income workers with less clout and influence other than the unions.

That raises the question: Why didn't the unions press for a more progressive tax rate?
None of this is true today. 50% of the population is single, and many of these singles are highly educated, well paid wage earners. Most are more engaged in the political process than ever.

It is time to demand a return to a truly progressive tax rate for all and a "One Tax Rate Table for all".

I know the word "fair" doesn't apply to many things these days; however, who can argue that both a progressive tax rate and one tax table for all isn't truly FAIR FOR ALL?

Who will stand up and demand that Singles continue to pay a much higher tax rate than marrieds?

Who? Based on what rationale?

Addressing 3 above: Overview of taxation for higher earners.

From 1913 (with the exception of years 2025-2029 25%), high wage earners have paid an average of at least 70% tax. For many years the highest earners even paid up to 90% tax. Here's a snap shot of the highest tax rates:

90% The tax rate for high earners from 1944 - 1964

70% tax rate for high earners from 1964 - 1982 until it dropped to

The Tax Holiday for High Earners Begins, and continues today whether or not the Bush Tax Cuts Sunset:

50% in 1982. Not good enough! It dropped AGAIN to

38.5% in 1987. Still not good enough. It dropped AGAIN to

28% in 1988! Bush I, increased it to

31% in 1991, Clinton increased it to

39.6% in 1993, and Bush II dropped it AGAIN to

38.6% in 2002. Still not good enough. Bush II dropped it AGAIN to

35% in 2003, where it will remain if the Bush Tax Cuts are Sunset/end;

39.6%, the rate for years 1993 - 2000 BUT STILL HISTORICALLY HUGELY LOW.

Why have the highest earners, those above $5,000,000 a year, been on a Tax Holiday for nearly 30 years?

Singles and median income wage earners haven't EVER been given a tax holiday anything close to the Hay Day the uber wealthy have enjoyed since Reagan.

We have a right to demand fairness be returned for ALL, including the uber wealthy.

Our country lost its way regarding how it taxes its wage earners. We wonder why low income workers show little incentive. Is it any wonder when we can clearly see that we require too high a percentage of their minimum wage (leaving them unable to live a life of independent dignity) while, at the same time, requiring too low a percentage from, what some people would call, the obscenely high wage earner.

We are not honoring our original tax intentions:

Just tossing it out. Here's a suggested progressive tax table that will allow low wage earners enough money to pay for medical co-pays and dental:

A true Progressive Tax
One tax for all, including Singles
0% for the lowest wage: $0 - $5,000 (they still pay the 7.65% FICA)
3% for $5,001 - $12,000
4% for $12,001 - $16,000
5% fir $16,001 - $25,000
8% for $25,001 - $42,000
10% for $42,001 - $50,000
12% for $50,001 - $62,000
13% for $62,001 - $75,000
14% for $75,001 - $85,000
25% for $85,001 - $100,000
30% for $101,000 - $200,000
35% for $200,000 - $500,000
45% for $501,001 - $5,000,000
55% for $5,000,001 - $10,000,000
70% over $10,000,000
Progressively, incrementally increasing to 3% - 55%
70% High tax for high earners
We have to start somewhere. I dared to suggest a table. It's just a suggestion!

I think we have had our attention diverted from some BIG, UNFAIR Tax Issues to a really miniscule issue: Increase taxes a mere 4.6% for the wealthiest is a NO BRAINER. We have been highjacked. We should be focusing on the non-progressive tax rates for all, including the wealthy (why should someone making only $250,000 pay the same rate as someone making $10,000,000?

And most importantly, whether or not the tax cuts sunset,


Stop punishing Singles with extremely higher tax rates?

How will they be able to save up for their futures?

Is it more important to take their money to build a military power than to let them keep the same percentage of their wages which will be spent in our economies, local and otherwise?



A Detailed Historical Analysis:

1913 - 1941: The majority of Wage Earners earned less than $4,000/year for the years in this list. The rates below are the tax rate for incomes up to $4,000 per year: The majority of workers..

1913 - 1915 - 1%
1916 - 1917 - 2%
1918 - 1918 - 6%
1919 - 1923 - 4%
1924 - 1924 - 2%
1925 - 1931 - 1.5%
1932 - 1940 - 4%

1941 - 1951: All wage earners pay a huge percentage of wage to taxes, perhaps to pay for WWII.

1941 - 1941 - 13%
1942 - 1943 - 22%
1944 - 1945 - 25%
1946 - 1950 - 22%
1951 - 1951 - 22.4%

1952 - 1953 - 24.6%

For the first time, "Head of Household's" pay a different rate of tax. It is lower than the rates for "Married Filing Separately". This doesn't last for long, however.

1954 - 1954 - 22%

1955 - All non-marrieds BEGIN TO PAY A HIGHER RATE OF TAX. "Married Filing Jointly" (MFJ) now has it's own tax rates, for the first time. Singles pay the same rate as "Married Filing Separately", which is higher than MFJ.

1955: The year when The IRS begins to punish Singles with higher tax rates. 8% higher! CHECK IT OUT!

20.0% - 22.0% up to $8,000 Married Filing Jointly
20.0% - 30.0% up to $8,000 Singles
20.0% - 26.0% up to $8,000 Head of Household

Who will argue that an 8% Higher Tax Rate for singles isn't punitive? and 4% for Heads of Holds, mostly working mothers?

1955 - 1964: All wage earners pay high rates, but all non-marrieds still pay significantly higher rates. Singles pay 8% higher tax rate:

20.0% - 22.0% up to $8,000 Marrieds Filing Jointly
20.0% - 30.0% up to $8,000 Singles.
20.0% - 24.0% up to $8,000 Head of Household

1964 - A more progressive tax for lower income wage earners was reinstated as follows. Again, most wage earners earned less than $8,000/yr ($153.00 a week). So the rates apply to wages 0 - $8,000.

1964 - 1965: Singles pay 6% higher tax rate.

14% - 19% up to $8,000 Married Filing Jointly
14% - 25% up to $8,000 Singles
14% - 22% up yo $8,000 Head of Household

1965 - 1976: Throughout this decade, Singles continue to pay higher rates, and low/lower wage earners continue to pay a high rate of tax.

14.0% - 19.0% up to $8,000 for MF Jointly
14.0% - 24.0% up to $8,000 for Singles
14.0% - 22.0% up o $8,000 Head of Household

1977 - 1978 - A MORE progressive tax for most wage earners. The 19% tax bracket increased from $8,000 to $11,200 to reflect an increase of wage. HOWEVER, the lowest wage earners were given a Tax Holiday.

It's nice that the poorest wage earners finally have no tax liability (other than FICA), BUT Singles are REALLY punished:

This a more complicated tax table because taxes were more progressive, so I will list MFJ and Singles separately, so you can see them clearly.

Married Filing Jointly: 0% - 19%

00.0% up to $3,200
14.0% $3,200 - $4,200
15.0% $4,200 - $5,200
16.0% $5,200 - $6,200
17.0% $6,200 - $7,200
19.0% $7,200 - $11,200

Singles Pay: 0% - 24% (5% higher than MFJ)

00.0 up to $2,200
14.0% $2,200 - $2,700
15.0% $2,700 - $3,200
16.0% $3,200 - $3,700
17.0% $3,700 - $4,200
19.0% $4,200 - $6,200
21.0% $6,200 - $8,200
24.0% $8,200 - $10,200
25.0% $10,200 - $12,200

1979 - 1981: The tax table continues to remain complicated. The very lowest earners continue to have no liability, but Singles continue to be punished. Most make under $16,000/yr or $228/week. The following is for wage range $0-$16,000. Tax increases

00.0% - 22.0% up to $16,000 Marrieds Filing Jointly
00.0% - 30.0% up to $16,000 Singles.
00.0% - 26.0% up to $16,000 Head of Household

1982: Next level majority earn less than $20,200 ($388.00/week)

00.0% - 22.0% up to $20,200 Marrieds Filing Jointly
00.0% - 31.0% up to $20,200 Singles.
00.0% - 26.0% up to $20,200 Head of Household
drops again for low wage Next Level

00.0% - 22.0% up to $20,200 Marrieds Filing Jointly
00.0% - 30.0% up to $20,200 Singles.
00.0% - 26.0% up to $20,200 Head of Household

1984: Low wage majority stays the same. Drops for middle income. Add Level for increased wage to $24,600 Table has note: Adjusted for inflation.

00.0% - 22.0% up to $24,600 Marrieds Filing Jointly
00.0% - 30.0% up to $24,600 Singles.
00.0% - 28.0% up to $24,600 Head of Household 6% Higher than MFJs. Working single mothers really got punished this year!

1985 - 1986: Median income $25,600 (and hasn't increased since, btw! In 2008 it was a mere $384 more than in 1985. Wages have been flat for decades; however, watch what happens to tax rates for the majority of wage earners.

00.0% - 22.0% up to $25,600 Marrieds Filing Jointly
00.0% - 30.0% up to $25,600 Singles.
00.0% - 28.0% up to $25,600 Head of Household 6% Higher!

Tax on higher incomes dropped to 50% from 70%

1987: The end of progressive taxation. The end of 0% taxation for the lowest wage earners. Median income remains $25,600.

11.0% - 15.0% up to $25,600 Marrieds Filing Jointly
11.0% - 35.0% up to $25,600 Singles.20% Higher!
11.0% - 28.0% up to $25,600 Head of Household 13% Higher!

Tax on higher incomes dropped to 38.5 from 50%

1988 - Reagan's 15% FLAT TAX begins: The least progressive tax year in history.

Singles begin to pay 13%* more than Marrieds on income between $17,850 - $29,750!

Single mothers begin to pay 13%** more on income between $23,900 - $ $29,750!

While Married Filing Jointly only pays 15% up to $29,750.

How can this not be deemed to be punitive rates for all unmarrieds?

15.0% $0 - $29,750 Married Filing Jointly
15.0% $0 - $17,800 Singles
15.0% $0 - $23,900 Head of Household

28.0% over $29,750 Married Filing Jointly
28.0% over $17,850 Singles*
28.0% over $23,900 Head of Household**

Tax on higher incomes dropped to 28% from 38.5%

1989 - 1990: Singles again pay 13% more than marrieds on $12,450 (the difference between $30,950 - $18,550). How can this be considered fair?

15.0% $0 - $30,950 Married Filing Jointly
15.0% $0 - $18,500 Singles
15.0% $0 - $24,850 Head of Household

28.0% over $30,950 Married Filing Jointly
28.0% over $18,550 Singles
28.0% over $24,850 Head of Household

Tax on higher incomes stays at 28%!

1991 - 1992 : Bush I increased the tax on higher wage earners. It was the right thing to do in light of the deficit Reagan left him; however, some say it caused him to lose re-election:

1991 - Check out Tax Rates For Singles!

15.0% $0 - $34,000 Married Filing Jointly
15.0% $0 - $20,350 Singles
15.0% $0 - $27,300 Head of Household

28.0% $34,000 - $82,150 Married Filing Jointly
28.0% $20,350 - $49,300 Singles
28.0% $27,300 - $70,450 Head of Household

31% over $82,150 Marrieds
31% over $49,300 Singles
31% over $70,450 Head of Household

1992 - Same unfairness

15.0% $0 - $35,8000 Married Filing Jointly
15.0% $0 - $21,450 Singles
15.0% $0 - $28,7500 Head of Household

28.0% $34,000 - $82,150 Married Filing Jointly
28.0% $20,350 - $49,300 Singles
28.0% $27,300 - $70,450 Head of Household

31% over $82,150 Marrieds
31% over $49,300 Singles
31% over $70,450 Head of Household

1993 - 2000: Sadly, this same trend continues under Clinton.

Singles continue to pay a much higher rate of tax, the high tax rate of 15% for most regardless of income remains a flat tax and a burden for all low wage earners, and high wage earners continue to pay low tax rates historically.

2000 - This is the year we will revert back to IF the Tax Cuts Sunset, which is sounding doubtful. It's easier to look at a copy of the Tax Table as it is very simple. Tax rates are Flat, unfair, and simple to understand:

Tax Rates: 2000 Pre-Cut Rates

It is amazing that no one raised the issue of unfairness as it is easy to see the punitive tax for singles.

15% $0 - $43,850 Marrieds
28% $43,850 - $105,950 Marrieds

15% $0 - $26,250 Singles
28% $26,250 - $ 63,550 Singles
31% $63,550 - $132,600 Singles

Based on the 2009 income presented at the link just below this statement, we can get a general idea of what tax liability each income bracket will have IF the TAX Cuts Sunset:

There is NO justification for anything other than the same tax rates for all wage earners when/if the Bush Tax Cuts Sunset. When a Bill Sunsets, there is the option of a new Bill to return to a progressive tax table. Congress has shown no shyness about changing the Tax Tables, as the history clearly demonstrates.

71% earn under $42,000: Tax rate 15% Marrieds, 28% Singles This needs to stay at 15% to be fair!

50% earn under $26,000: Tax rate 15% Marrieds, 15% Singles
40% earn under $20,000: Tax rate 15% Marrieds, 15% Singles

1% earn over $250,000: Tax rate 39.6% is the Maximum Tax Rate, even for those earning $20,000,000.

According to the Pew Report, 50% are Single, and according to this wage analysis, 71% earn less than $42,000. Singles need to be aware of these changes IF the tax cuts Sunset for the 99% that earn under $250,000.
And here is the Tax Table if the Tax Cuts Don't Sunset:

Taxes- 2010 Tax Rates

15.0% $0 - $35,8000 Married Filing Jointly
15.0% $0 - $21,450 Singles
15.0% $0 - $28,7500 Head of Household

28.0% $34,000 - $82,150 Married Filing Jointly
28.0% $20,350 - $49,300 Singles
28.0% $27,300 - $70,450 Head of Household

31% over $82,150 Marrieds
31% over $49,300 Singles: THIS IS JUST WRONG!
31% over $70,450 Head of Household

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