Did You Know? Fun Facts About the IRS



The words “fun” and “IRS” aren’t paired too often. Here are some quick facts that you can either read and enjoy, or amaze your friends to at the next Trivia Night.

1. Donald Duck Was Once Their Mascot

The tax system was expanded in the 1940s to include citizens from all tax brackets. Prior to that, the only people who were subject to taxes were the wealthy. Middle-income and lower-income Americans were resistant to the change in tax structure and were balking at filing their taxes every year.

The U.S. government enlisted the Walt Disney Company to create two animated features that showed the revamped tax system in a more favorable light. Donald Duck was the star of both these animated short films.

2. Citizens Have Given Over $1 billion to the Presidential Election Fund

It’s true. Citizens have ponied up over $1 billion to this fund, mostly from designating a donation amount on their tax forms each year. Ever since this voluntary option was instituted in the 1970s, Americans have opened their wallets to donate to presidential campaigns.

3. You Can Choose From Nearly 500 Tax Forms and Schedules

One of the reasons filing your income taxes can be so complicated is the sheer number of available forms and schedules. The IRS website has a library of over 480 forms for retirees, business owners, parents, college students, caregivers, and Social Security recipients.

4. The IRS Receives More Than 130 Million Tax Returns Every Year

To keep up with the mountain of paperwork, the IRS has instituted online programs and electronic filing options.

5. The US Government Has Not Always Assessed an Income Tax

While it’s easy to think taxes have been around forever, it wasn’t until the 1800s did the US have a tax system. Due to the expenses involved in the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln instituted the first income tax in 1861. Lincoln himself paid taxes in 1864 as a way to encourage all citizens to pay their share.

The government’s main source of revenue prior to the 1800s was specific taxes on tobacco and property.

Despite these early taxes, our current income tax system wasn’t instituted until 1913.

While these quick facts may or may not do much to alter your perception of the IRS, they could help make you the next Trivia Night or Jeopardy champ!