13 Fun Tax Facts for Tax Day (April 17th)

Do you remember tearing open your very first paycheck, only to discover a sizeable chunk of it was already missing? If you haven't experienced this yet, perhaps reading this help soften the blow. Someone named FICA didn't steal a portion of your earnings; it went toward paying your taxes.

We tend to only think about taxes when tax season comes around, especially if you are handling a cash shortage with a title loan until your refund check arrives. But taxes have a long and fascinating history, from the ancient world to modern-day America. Check out these interesting tax facts to ponder as April 17th approaches.

Taxes Have Been Around as Long as Civilization

Taxes aren't all about W-4's and 1040's. Taxes are so important in human history that there is actually no known civilization that did not tax their citizens in some way.

Taxes Can Make or Break Empires

Bad policies can tank empires, if Rome is any example. Historians have attributed the fall of the Roman Empire largely to financial problems caused by tax evasion.

The Boston Tea Party Was Over Taxes

On December 16th, 1773, colonists dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the oppressive tax measures of the British Empire, like the Tea Act the protest aimed to denounce.

Lady Godiva Was Protesting Taxes

You might be familiar with Lady Godiva (or the chocolates named after her), but Godiva's midnight ride in the buff was actually a tax protest. Who knew activism tasted so good?

Taxes Are Why Newspapers Are Printed on Such Large Sheets

People always manage to find the most inventive loopholes to avoid taxes. Newspapers use such large sheets of paper because of a British tax from 1816. Because the "knowledge tax" was applied by the page, newspapers simply made the pages larger.

The American Civil War Was Fought Mostly About Taxes

The U.S. Civil War was not all about slavery; another key component was about taxation. It's no surprise the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, a Customs House. The first income tax in the U.S was actually imposed to help fund the Union Civil War effort in 1861.

People Used to Have to Pay Their Taxes All At Once

When Americans started paying annual federal income tax in 1913, it was their responsibility to save money to pay their taxes. It wasn't until WWII that the government needed a more consistent stream of income that taxes began being withheld from paychecks.

The IRS is Serious Business

The number of words in the Federal Tax Code is 3,700,000. By comparison, Atlas Shrugged has 645,000 words, and the Bible has about 700,000. But that hasn't always been the case. The federal tax code was 400 pages in 1913, but by 2010 it was 70,000 pages.

Corporate Taxes and Subsidies Help Big Businesses Avoid Paying Taxes

The federal corporate tax rate is 35%, but most companies benefit from loopholes and subsidies that allow them to pay far less. In 2009, Bank of America had an income of $4.4 billion, and in 2010, General Electric made over $4 billion in domestic profits. Both paid $0 in taxes.

Some Countries Impose a Gas Tax on Cows

Ireland, Denmark, and other EU nations have begun taxing cattle owners for the flatulence the cows produce in hope of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The taxes range from $18 per cow in Ireland to $110 per cow in Denmark.

Some States Have Unusual Tax Practices

While Alabama imposes a 10¢ playing card tax on every deck purchased in the state, Nevada issues a free deck of cards with every tax return filed.

Presidential Tax Traditions

Following Jimmy Carter, every U.S. president has released their tax returns, with the exception of Donald Trump.

Quotes about Taxes

The entrance to the IRS building in Washington, D.C. is inscribed with a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes which reads, "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society." If times are tight, find out how a title loan could help you survive this tax season until your refund check comes in.