Since today is the anniversary of the establishment of the first income tax in 1861, I thought it would be fun to travel back there and take in the atmosphere of what had to have been an eventful time. The income tax was established to pay for the Civil War. Of course, there are some time travel rules that we must abide, so here is a list that will hopefully keep us from creating a time disruption or tear in the continuum.
Top Ten Things Not to Do on the First Tax Day in 1861.
10 On the first tax day, do not try to find an H&R Block office for relief. If you do, at best it will be an ice supply house. At worse, you will raise so much concern from those you ask that they will point you out to the tax collector. (The belief that you are trying to avoid your tax obligation is what ended you up behind bars, Issac. Just tell them you made a mistake and intend to pay, and maybe they’ll let you go.)
9 On the first tax day, do not tell Tiny the WWF champ that he can’t come in to assess your net worth. If you do, at best he will come in anyway. At worst, Tiny who just left his rejection support group meeting will reduce the place to sawdust. (The upside to Tiny’s visit, Iulio, is you have no assets and therefore don’t owe any tax. Let’s not talk of the downside.)
8 On the first tax day, do not try to deduct your stay and meals as a business expense. If you do, at best you will be laughed out of the room. At worse, the tax collector will call the Marshall, and you’ll be labeled as the first tax fraud case in the US. (The first tax was a 3% flat rate over 800 dollars ($13,000 today) of income, Iwdael. There are no deductions. Now tell the man you are sorry and cough up the money.)
7 On the first Tax day, do not carry your “No Taxation Without Representation,” protest sign. If you do, at best, no one will be able to read. At worst, you will be invited to spend the night at the Hoosegow Hotel. (These new revenuers have no sense of humor, Izeyah. I wouldn’t press my luck any further.)
6 On the first tax day, do not try to pay for your tax with corn. If you do, at best the agent will think you are joking. At worst, the interpretation is that you are trying to evade your taxes. (You have to admit, Izreal trying to unload 100 bushels of corn in the tax office looks a little suspicious. You’ll find a broom and shovel in the corner. Best to clean up the mess before you leave.)
5 On the first tax day, do not try to convince the tax collector that you are part of the 97% of the population that does not earn 800 dollars a year. If you do, at best the collector will respect your attempt at avoiding the tax. At worse, the collector just declared to his staff that the next person who tries to lie about their income will be shot. (I think you better cough up the tax quickly, Ian. That collector is resting his hand on a very big six-shooter.)
4 On the first Tax day, do not show up in your most elegant clothes on the best horse. If you do, at best the collector won’t notice. At worst, since your clothes and horse are better than the collector’s, your bill will be higher than it should be. (At this stage, Ibrahim you might as well just pay it. Why you didn’t think to wear those old shoes and overalls is beyond me. You could have parked your horse down the street too.)
3 On the first tax day, do not try to dazzle the tax collector with stacks of paperwork proving your lack of income. If you do, at best, you will be ignored. At worse, the agent will assume you are up to something illegal and double your tax assessment. (It would have been better just to tell them the truth, Igore. After all, 3% is not a lot to pay.)
2 On the first tax day, do not put in an application to join the IRS. If you do, at best no one will understand you. At worst, you’ll give away your time traveler status since the IRS wasn’t established until 1862. (Well easy come easy go, Ishmael. It is now time to hit the bricks and get back to your own timezone. Otherwise, you might be spending a lot of time in a very damp and chilly place.)
1 On the first tax day, do not think you can tell the tax collector to send you a bill. If you do, at best the collector will share a laugh with you. At worst, the collector will take measures to collect the tax today. ( That big guy in the corner is the enforcer, Ignatius. It is his job to extract the payment right now. He has been known to hold some by their ankles until the money falls to the floor. Just save us all the misery and pay the bill.)