It's tax season, and Monday is the 100th anniversary of Illinois' ratification of the 16th Amendment, which allowed the U.S. income tax. Please itemize these 10 tax facts:
1. Did 7 million American children suddenly disappear in 1987? On paper, it seemed so. That's the year the IRS began requiring Social Security numbers for dependent children, and the number dropped dramatically.2. Before there was Al Capone, there was a South Carolina bootlegger named Manny Sullivan. In the 1927 ruling United States vs. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that income derived from illegal means was taxable. Sullivan argued that reporting his ill-gotten gains would violate his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. The court unanimously disagreed. That set the table for Capone's conviction in October 1931, and for today's requirement in some states that marijuana dealers buy tax stamps.
St. Louis Cardinals baseball team in the early '50s, was forced to sell the team after being sentenced to 15 months in prison for tax evasion. The Busch family bought the team and owned it for four decades.
4. What did actress Sophia Loren have in common with Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner, rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry, hotel magnate Leona Helmsley, comedian Richard Pryor, lobbyist Jack Abramoff and evangelist Sun Myung Moon? They all did jail time on tax charges.
5. In 1697, England taxed homeowners based on the number of windows in their houses. Glass was expensive, so a tax on windows was a somewhat fair gauge of wealth. Nevertheless, some citizens viewed the tax as the ultimate daylight robbery. When today's tourists see bricked-up windows on old English buildings, it's often a testament to their owners' efforts to avoid the tax, which was repealed in 1851.
6. About 95 million federal taxpayers used e-file in 2009, meaning two-thirds of all federal returns were paperless.
7. The man who helps formulate tax policy for the world's largest economy messed up his own taxes by filing through the TurboTax software program. But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner blamed himself, not TurboTax, for failing to report more than $34,000 in International Monetary Fund income, a stumble that complicated but did not derail his Senate confirmation.
8. The Stamp Act of 1765, the first direct tax on American colonists, is familiar to students of the Revolutionary War. But less understood is how pervasive the tax was. Nearly every commercial, legal and government document had to be written on special paper carrying an embossed stamp. That included marriage licenses, wills, college diplomas, calendars, almanacs and newspapers. That's not all: The act taxed playing cards and even dice.
9. Here's a little-known American hero: Donald Alexander, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner from 1973 to 1977 who found that President Richard Nixon was using a secret cadre of IRS investigators to attack people on his "enemies list." Alexander disbanded the unit, and later wrote: "The evening of the same day, President Nixon made his first effort to fire me." But Alexander outlasted his boss. He died last year, honored for withstanding political pressure and simply doing his job.
10. Another former IRS boss, Joseph Nunan Jr., is less fondly remembered. In 1952, Nunan was convicted of tax evasion for failing to report at least $86,000 in income, including his winnings when he bet that President Harry Truman would be elected in 1948. Nunan wagered $200 on Truman with 9-to-1 odds, earning $1,800 -- and a five-year prison sentence.
Sources: "1927: High Tide of the Twenties" by Gerald Leinwand; CIA Factbook; U.S. Supreme Court; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Encyclopedia Britannica; ushistory.org; irs.gov; snopes.com; Washington Post; and Tribune news services.