Finance #TBT: income tax law is passed this week in 1913

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Income Tax Fundamentals -- Itemized and Standard Income Tax Deductions

On February 25, 1913, a darling document named the 16th Amendment went into full effect. You're probably thinking "Okay... so..."

Well, you know that little time that rolls around every year called "tax season"? The one that's currently in full swing and slowly starting to give you anxiety? You can thank the 16th Amendment for that: its ratification is responsible for the modern day income tax. Thanks, founding fathers.

SEE ALSO: 6 types of income that are surprisingly taxable

Though we'll spare you the compete history lesson on how the income tax came to be, we'll still give you a bit of loose background.

The U.S. Treasury has been taxing its citizens since as far back as can be remembered, mostly through sales taxes and tariffs. Then in 1861, good old Abe Lincoln suggested something along the lines of "why don't we just start taxing people based on how much money they make?" And the rest of the government kind of went "I mean, yeah, that makes sense."

With the Civil War in full swing, the government desperately needed more money. Enter the first progressive tax (in which people who earned more were taxed more). This lasted until 1872.

A graph of the top federal tax rate over time:
In 1894, congress re-instated the income tax, but this time, it was met with opposition. In the court case Pollock vs. Farmers' Loan and Trust Co., it was ruled by the Supreme Court that income tax was unconstitutional (awkward.) Congress defeatedly looked for a solution, and so in 1909, they proposed that the notion of income tax become its own amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

On July 2, 1909, the 16th amendment (which allowed for Congress to enact an income tax on the American people, regardless of population and dividing the tax evenly by state) was authorized and eventually ratified on February 3, 1913.

Then on February 25, 1913, Secretary of State Philander C. Knox signed and certified the amendment, and in to effect it went.

Here's some additional information on the man behind the signature:
Though (obviously) the government can no longer tax the American people at any rate and by any qualifications that they want, the 16th amendment answered the question of whether or not it was constitutional to levy an income tax on American citizens at all. The answer, of course, being yes.

So come April, when you're kicking yourself for procrastinating on filing your 1040 for so long, give a shout out to good old Secretary Knox and that signature that changed it all 103 years ago.

RELATED: Important tax dates to know
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Important tax dates to know
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Finance #TBT: income tax law is passed this week in 1913

January 15, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have fourth-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

(Photo via Tetra Images/Getty Images)

April 18, 2016: Individual tax returns are due for the 2015 tax year

(Photo via Alamy)

April 18, 2016: Requests for an extension on filling out your taxes must be filed by this date

(Photo by Chris Fertnig via Getty Images)

April 18, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have first-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

(Photo via Alamy)

April 18, 2016: This date is also the deadline to make a contribution to an IRA account for 2015

(Photo by Garry L., Shutterstock)

June 15, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have second-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

(Photo via Shutterstock)

September 15, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have second-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

(Photo via Shutterstock)

October 17, 2016: 2015 tax returns that received an extension are due by this date

(Photo by Juan Camilo Bernal via Getty Images)

October 17, 2016: Today is the last chance to recharacterize a traditional IRA that was converted to a Roth IRA during 2015

(Photo via Getty Images)

January 15, 2017: Those who are self-employed or have fourth-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

(Photo by Pascal Broze via Getty Images)

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