Tax facts

Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes."

Following are some interesting (and slightly disturbing) facts about taxes from

  • The first property tax in the U.S. was in 1798.
  • The first U.S. income tax started in 1862 during the Civil War to help raise money.
  • The first federal tax office in the U.S. was the Office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in 1862.
  • Ratified in 1913, the 16th Amendment established the first permanent U.S. income tax. At the time, Connecticut, Florida, Rhode Island, and Utah rejected the amendment, and Pennsylvania and Virginia never considered or discussed it.
  • There are more than 7 million words in the U.S. Tax Code. That is more words than the Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest speeches in U.S. history, which has a mere 269 words; Declaration of Independence, which contains 1,337 words; and the Holy Bible, which consists of 773,000 words.
  • There were 402 tax forms in 1990; by 2002, there were 526.
  • The number of pages in the tax code and regulations jumped from 26,300 in 1984 to 54,846 in 2003. That is equivalent to nearly 110 reams of paper (there are 500 pages in a ream of paper). A ream is about 2 inches thick, so if you stacked all 54,846 pages on top of each other, you would have a stack of paper 220 inches high, or about 18 feet tall.
  • The Internal Revenue Service sends out more than 8 billion pages of forms and instructions every year, which is equivalent to about 300,000 trees. Fortunately, they now use recycled paper.
  • The easiest tax form, the 1040EZ, has 33 pages of instructions.

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Taxing issues.