History of the Form 1040

Posted on June 27, 2014

The modern income tax code became law on October 3, 1913, when the Revenue Act of 1913 became law.

March 1 was the filing deadline for 1914 and every subsequent year.

Taxpayers were expected to complete the new “Form 1,040” which reported their income for the last ten months of 1913 and calculated how much tax they owed.  Each taxpayer’s Form 1,040 was first reviewed by the local collector of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) who then forwarded the tax return to Washington for a second review.

After the tax return’s accuracy was established, collectors were required to submit a bill to the taxpayer by June 1, 1914.  Final payment was due by June 30, 1914.

Because of the new law, there was considerable confusion about the filing process and the deadline for filing tax returns, especially because March 1, 1914, fell on a Sunday.

Not surprisingly, the income tax law had been highly contested and debated for many years and, like today, opponents continue to fight long after it was on the books.  Some things never change.

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