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The First Form 1040

Today is the deadline for filing returns for personal income taxes for 2016. The current federal income tax can be traced back to the Revenue Act of 1913, which was passed after the ratification, by the states, of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The act provided that taxes on individual taxpayers would be imposed beginning for the year 1913 on incomes of $3,000 and up.

Our modern Form 1040 can be traced back to the original form, photos of which are to the right and below. This form is reproduced from Federal legislation, 1913-1914; income tax, war revenue, federal reserve bank, anti-trust and trade commission lawspublished by the Federal Legislative Bulletin Service in 1915.

The Law Library of Congress has an extensive collection of materials concerning the history of federal taxation, including bills, committee reports, and laws. Many of these sources can be accessed through Congress.gov, or in specific databases that are available onsite at the Library of Congress.

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