Our current income tax system, inaugurated in 1913 with the adoption of the 16th Amendment, began with a 1 percent tax on taxable income above $3,000 ($4,000 for married couples). A series of surcharges of up to 6 percent were applied to higher incomes, with the maximum rate being 7 percent on taxable income over $500,000. Less than 0.5 percent of the population ended up paying income tax.

From these humble beginnings, the income tax soon blossomed, thanks to World War I, into a tax with a minimum rate that doubled and a maximum rate that reached 77 percent on income of over $1 million.

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