The Taxman Commeth

Although April 15 is the date United States income taxes are normally due for individuals, this year (2012) the due date is April 17. Taxes were not due on April 15 because it fell on a Sunday. And taxpayers got an extra day to file and/or pay because April 16 was Emancipation Day, which is holiday obxerved in Washington, D.C.

While you are lamenting about how much tax you must pay this year, just remember it could be worse. The maximum federal tax rate for individuals in the U.S. this year is 35%. This maximum rate has varied throughout the years, starting in 1913 at 7% and hitting its high mark in 1944 during World War II of 94%. From 1946 through 1963, it remained high at 91%. The maximum rate dropped to 77% in 1964 and the following year to 70%, where it remained until 1982, when the first of the Reagan-era tax cuts lowered it to 50%, with 1988 having the lowest post-WW II rate of 28%.

The U.K. first imposed a personal income tax in 1799 under the direction of William Pitts. Although the revenue it generated helped the British defeat Napoleon, many Brits thought the tax devised by Pitts was the pits. The income tax was dropped and reinstated several times over the next hundred years. By the 1948/1949 tax year, the pressures of the post-WW II economy led to the imposition of a top rate of 95%. This was reduced to 91.5% for the 1966/1967 tax year. By 1978/1979, it had dropped to 83%. For 1988/1989, it was down to 32%. The top maximum rate in the U.K. is currently 50%.

As you can see, the tax rate during the sixties was quite high. No wonder George Harrison wrote a song about it, which gets quite a bit of airplay in the United States every April 15.


In the Beatles song Taxman, what is the tax rate, what is taxed if you take a walk and who plays lead guitar?

The tax rate is 95% (“there’s one for you, 19 for me”). This was the maximum tax rate in the U.K. at the time the song was written. If you take a walk, the Taxman taxes your feet. As for the hard-hitting guitar solo, it was not played by George, but rather by Paul McCartney.

Leave a Comment

The maximum upload file size: 25 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Drop file here