Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tax Day Cometh

Tax Information, money, calculator
With April 18th quickly approaching, many people are thinking about Tax Day! (Although I'm breathing a sigh of relief writing this post since I've already got my taxes filed). Yes, the date taxes are due has actually been extended this year to Tuesday, April 18 so you've got a few extra days to get them in.

I often think of paying taxes as being such a modern concept, but paying taxes has actually been around since ancient times. The Egyptian Pharaohs had their own tax collectors known as scribes. At one point cooking oil was taxed and households were audited to make sure that they weren't trying to find tax loopholes, such as using alternatives to cooking oil. When Greek Athenians needed funds for war, they imposed a tax. If the taxes collected exceeded what they needed, they provided tax refunds. The Romans taxed imports and exports, and Caesar Augustus actually started a 5% inheritance tax that was used to fund retirement pay for the military.

Map of colonial Massachusetts
From my classes in U.S. history I remember learning about the Boston Tea Party when Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded ships in the Boston harbor and threw 342 chests of tea overboard. Taxation without representation led to the American Revolution, with the U.S. going to war with Great Britain. Taxing did, of course, continue in post-revolution America. The individual income tax was first instituted in America during the Civil War to pay for war expenses. It was later repealed. The income tax as we now know it started with the passage of the 16th amendment, which was ratified in 1913. Tax Day used to be March 15, but then it was switched to April 15. Why, you ask? To give tax payers an extra month to recover from end of the year holiday expenses. And to silence all the jokes about the Ides of March. Not sure what the Ides of March is? I'm glad you asked because my colleague wrote a witty and informative piece about it!

1040 tax form and refund check with the Statue of Liberty
Do you prepare your own taxes or do you have someone else prepare them for you? One Pew Research report found in 2013 that 33% of Americans were still preparing their own taxes while 56% had someone else prepare their taxes for them. If you are in the former category, we have help for you! Looking for tax forms? We have print forms at select MCPL branches. We recommend calling the branch ahead of your visit to make sure the forms you need are still available. You can also find links to forms that you can print from home or from one of our branch computers. We also offer tax preparation help, by appointment, at many of our branches for low-to-moderate income county residents.

Every wonder what your county taxes are used for? The Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget has a visually appealing online version of the county Operating Budget. This year's approved FY17 budget has a great pie chart that breaks down how much of the budget goes to schools, libraries, transportation, and more vital county services for residents.

After getting your taxes filed and done, be sure to listen to this peppy song that Irving Berlin wrote during World War II called I Paid My Income Tax Today. Here is a version of the song sung by Gene Autry. You'll be singing it all day long!


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