Now that we’re smack in the middle of tax season, it’s probably time to take a break, right? That’s why we reached out to a group of tax experts and asked them for some of their favorite tax-related facts, tips, and trivia.
Fair warning: the list gets kind of weird. Enjoy!
- “The word “tax” comes from the Latin taxo, which means “I estimate.” – Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting.
- The motto of American colonists who participated in the Boston Tea Party was “no taxation without representation!” Because residents of Washington DC lack voting representation in Congress, their unofficial motto is “taxation without representation.” Don’t believe us? Check the receipts license plates.
- “Uncle Sam wants you to be healthy! If you quit smoking, you can write off any smoking cessation products or programs. Have a life-threatening medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease? If a doctor signs off on it, you can write off diet/fitness products, classes, and programs. One person was able to write off the cost of their new pool because it was their form of exercise, as signed off by a doctor. However, if it was for recreational purposes, the IRS wouldn’t accept it. – Ivy Chou, Content Director for DealsPlus.
- “Income tax didn’t exist until the Civil War, in 1861, but the tax was actually disbanded in 1872 because it was deemed unconstitutional. It wasn’t until 1913 when the constitution was changed, via the 16th amendment, that these taxes were again re-introduced.” – Emilee Morehouse, SimpleKeep
- “There are more words in the tax code than there are in the Bible. The tax code is about 4 million words long.” – Marc Roche, Co-founder and CEO of Annuities HQ.
- “The first known taxes were in Sumer (Mesopotamia) almost 5,000 years ago. They were recorded on clay cones and paid in livestock.” – Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting.
- The writing on the Rosetta Stone, a monumentally important artifact and the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, is mostly about taxes.
- “The IRS was created during World War II and that’s when the government starting withholding taxes from paychecks.” – Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting.
- Al Capone was a famous Chicago mobster. He was eventually brought down by agents from the Treasury Department (this was pre-IRS) who were able to prove that he was avoiding income tax.
- “The IRS receives more than 130 million tax returns each year. It’s surprising that they’re able to keep up! In 2016, Americans spent about 6.1 billion hours and $29.6 billion on tax preparation services and/or tax software like TurboTax and H&R Block.” – Ivy Chou, Content Director for DealsPlus.
- “In the 1st century, the Roman emperor taxed urine. It was collected for the ammonia and use to launder garments and tan hides.” – Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting.
- In 2011, the country of Romania was trying to pull itself out of a steep recession, decided to add a new profession to the country’s labor code, making it subject taxation. The profession? Witchcraft.
- “During the Great Depression, twelve states collected only fractions of a penny on sales of low-price items. For a product that only costs 10 cents, for example, the tax due was less than a penny. To avoid Americans being overcharged, in a time where that amount could be critical, tokens were generally used with some multiple of 1/10 of a cent.” – Susan Petracco, Co-Founder of AccurateTax.com
- Double amputees in Oregon get a $50 tax credit. Single amputees? They get bupkus.
- “The IRS has more people working for it than the Federal Bureau of Investigation!” – Marc Roche, Co-founder and CEO of Annuities HQ.
- So-called “sin taxes” are taxes on things like tobacco, gambling and alcohol. Their proper name is “excise taxes.”
- “Speaking of income tax, if we think taxes are bad now, we should take a gander back to WWII when tax levels rose to 94% for wealthy Americans. Talk about burning through your (very well padded) paychecks!” – Emilee Morehouse, SimpleKeep
- Up until President Trump’s controversial decision to withhold his tax returns, every presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter had released theirs during the campaign.
- “Get creative with your business expenses. A businessman deducted the cost of beer, a stripper her breast implants, and a work-at-home business owner deducted the costs of his lawn care. If it benefits your business in any way, you can probably write it off.” – Ivy Chou, Content Director for DealsPlus.
- “Here’s the story about the stripper who deducted her boob job and ended up in tax court. Her name was Cynthia Hess (aka “Chesty Love”) and she originally deducted the surgery as a medical expense as a medical expense. The IRS disallowed it because cosmetic surgery that isn’t to correct a disfigurement or for life-saving purposes is not deductible. The higher court allowed the expense but not as a medical expense. They allowed it as a bona fide ordinary and necessary business expense.” – Bonnie Lee, E.A., Owner of Taxpertise
- “In the 1600s and 1700s in England, there was a tax on the number of windows in a house. (This was repealed in the 1800s because people started to get sick from living in homes with a lack of air, due to having limited windows.)” – Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting.
- “In England there is a tax on televisions. Color televisions are taxed more than black and white televisions, and if a blind person has a television they only have to pay half the tax. Truly bizarre!” – Max Robinson, Jumpstart Tax
- Several European nations have a tax on cow flatulence. It’s actually very important because methane gas is one of the main greenhouse gases that causes climate change. But still: cow flatulence.
- “Over 1 million accountants are hired each year in America to help with taxes.” – Marc Roche, Co-founder and CEO of Annuities HQ .
- “The Russian Emperor Peter the Great taxed beards. (He wanted men to be clean shaven.)” – Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting.
- “New York City has the highest corporate income tax in the world.” – Marc Roche, Co-founder and CEO of Annuities HQ.
- Texas has a “Sexually-Oriented Business Fee” that charges strip clubs that serve alcohol $5-per-patron. Of course, it’s most commonly referred to by a different name: the pole tax. Revenue raised to the tax goes to health care and programs for victims of sexual assault.
- “One of the causes of the French Revolution was a salt tax (the gabelle).” – Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting .
- In 1982, Madison Square Garden was granted a 10-year property tax abatement. However, a clerical error led to the abatement being permanent. This has cost New York City approximately $200 million in tax revenue.
- “In an effort to keep citizens healthy, France imposed a “soda tax” on all carbonated soft drinks in 2012. They’re now about 3.5% more expensive than other drinks. But with all that wine, why would you even bother?” – Emilee Morehouse, SimpleKeep
- If you were going simply by tax documents, 7 million US children disappeared in 1987—the same year that the IRS started requiring that parents list their children’s Social Security numbers on their taxes.
- “Are you a drug dealer, thief, or corrupt official? The IRS wants to tax your dirty money, too. You can include your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if you’re “self-employed”. As part of the Fifth Amendment, you have no obligation to disclose where the money came from. Now the question is, how many thieves and drug dealers are honest enough to pay up?” – Ivy Chou, Content Director for DealsPlus.
- In 1935, the US tax code’s highest income tax bracket (63 percent) applied to only one person: Nelson Rockefeller, who earned over $5 million the previous year.
Ivy Chou, Ivy Chou is the content director at DealsPlus.com, one of the most popular shopping, coupon, and deal sites on the web. As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, she loves sharing her coupon-ing expertise and money-saving tips with fellow shoppers.
Bonnie Lee, For over 20 years, as the owner of Taxpertise and as an Enrolled Agent, Lee has represented taxpayers across the country in audits, offers in compromise, tax problem resolution, and non-filing issues. She specializes in resolving tax problems for independent contractors, the self-employed and small business owners.
Emilee Morehouse, is a marketing maven dedicated to finding fresh ways to bring people together — a fancy way of saying she’s obsessed with social media. With a BA in Journalism, she worked as Managing Editor for The Exploress, then joined the team at SimpleKeep; bringing the worlds of marketing, small business and finance closer together. In her spare time you can find Emilee on Twitter, travel blogging, painting or exploring her home city of Seattle, WA.
Susan Petracco, is Co-Founder of AccurateTax.com, where she manages partner integrations and development. With a background of fifteen years in e-commerce, she has worked with large brands including Talbots, Serta, and Avid, as well as many smaller retailers. This experience consulting for retailers brought the need for more advanced sales tax solutions to her attention, leading to the founding and subsequent growth of AccurateTax.
Max Robinson works for Jumpstart Tax, an R&D tax claim provider based in Scotland. Jumpstart pride themselves on bringing a bit more personality to their work than other tax specialists, and believe that this is why they’ve managed to establish such a loyal following.
Marc Roche, is the Co-founder and CEO of Annuities HQ an online resource for information and rates on annuities and retirement planning. Working steadily in the financial services, online marketing and lead generation industry for over eight years, Marc has had literally thousands of conversations concerning annuities with prospective buyers and advisors.
A forward-thinking entrepreneur and passionate family man, Josh Zimmelman graduated from Yeshiva University in 2003 with a degree in accounting. Josh launched his own launch his own firm Westwood Tax and Consulting and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and US News & World Report.
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