One hundred years ago today, October 3, 1913, President Wilson signed into law the modern income tax. The income tax helped us fight two world wars, battle the Great Depression, send a man to the moon, and invent the Internet — and it’s still going strong! Gives us all something to aspire to.
"Of all forms of taxation, [the inheritance tax] seems the wisest… By taxing estates heavily at death the state marks its condemnation of the selfish millionaire’s unworthy life."
— Andrew Carnegie, millionaire and philanthropist, in “Wealth,” North American Review, June 1889.
Sadly, your taxes do not fund the U.S. Postal Service any more. The USPS runs off of its own revenues from stamps, and has survived for decades on that basis despite huge hurdles.
And this plucky little agency doesn’t just deliver the mail. When they aren’t saving lives, letter carriers give back to their communities.
This Saturday, you can participate in the annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign. Just leave a bag of non-perishable food in a bag by your mailbox, and the USPS will get that food to a local food bank or pantry. It’s incredibly easy for you, incredibly helpful to struggling families, and incredibly generous of the Post Office (especially given how ungenerous some politicians have been to America’s letter carriers).
When our men and women in uniform come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, many struggle to find a job. Here’s one vet’s story of how the federal government helped her and her family get back on their feet:
After serving 7 years in the US Army, I left with the hopes of finding a decent job and starting a fresh new life with my husband, also a vet, and 4 children in our home state of Florida.
It wasn’t long before we discovered how difficult the transition back to civilian life would be. I applied for, perhaps, hundreds of jobs and went on several interviews in a very short period of time. Still, I was either overqualified or under qualified for some of the same jobs in which I held during my time in service. Even with both of us working and earning $8/hour, it simply was not enough. Once money and resources ran out, we lost nearly all of our possessions and were even homeless a few times over about 3 years.
Just before giving up hope, a friend of mine called and informed me of a career fair for vets in Washington DC.
From the Smithsonian Magazine,:
A dramatic application of digital technology has allowed researchers to recover Bell’s voice from a recording held by the Smithsonian—a breakthrough announced here for the first time.
For the first time since his death in 1922, the voice of the man who invented the telephone.
Sure, most Americans think their taxes are fair — but did you know that one third of Americans actually enjoy filling out their income tax forms? In fact, more people like paying their taxes because it’s their responsibility than dislike paying because they think their taxes are too high.
TAX PATRIOTISM FOR THE WIN, says Wendell, the “I Heart Taxes” eagle.
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
— Fred Rogers
Photo Credit: Charles Krupa/Associated Press