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a confusion of tax forms and chartsResources and Credits


Special thanks to Chris Bergin and Joseph Thorndike of the Tax History Project.

Research Sources

We’re grateful to the following resources for providing background information for this activity:

  • U.S. Tax Code Online
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • White House Jobs and Economic Growth Fact Sheets
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury: Fact Sheet: Taxes: History of the U.S. Tax System
  • Congressional Budget Office
Articles and Background
“Russia's Economy Stabilized Under Putin,”
by Jim Heinz, The Associated Press, February 9, 2008
“Summary of Steve Forbes’ Flat Tax Plan,”
PBS Online NewsHour, 2000
“Top 10 Examples of Government Waste,”
by Brian M. Reidl, The Heritage Foundation, April 4, 2005
The Three Trillion Dollar War,
by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, as covered by National Public Radio
“History of the Income Tax in the United States,”
by Scott Moody, Family Education Network
“The Origin of Income Tax,”
by Adam Young, Ludwig von Mises Institute, September 7, 2004
“History of the Income Tax of the United States,”
by the Tax Foundation
“A Brief History of Taxes,”
by Michael Barone, U.S. News and World Report, December 12, 1994
“Taxing Times,”
PBS Online NewsHour, March 7, 1996
“31 Questions and Answers About the Internal Revenue Service,”
by Paul Andrew Mitchell,
“The Basics: Tax Reform,”
Century Foundation Press, 1999
“Read My Lips,”
by Tom Herman, The Wall Street Journal, January 11, 1999
“Measure Would Repeal 16th Amendment,”
by Julie Foster,, May 8, 2001
“The Non-Taxpaying Class,”
The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2002
“New Tax Plan May Bring Shift in Burden, Poor Could Pay a Bigger Share,”
by Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, December 16, 2002
“March of the ‘Lucky Duckies,’”
by Farhad Manjoo, Salon, December 21, 2002
“Freshen Up Your $1000 Tax Cut, Hon?”
by King Kauffman, Salon, February 15, 2001
“Other People’s Money,”
by David Horowitz, Salon, March 5, 2001
“The Progressive Income Tax,”
by John Chamberlain, The Freeman, April, 1981
“Strengthening the Progressive Income Tax: The Responsible Answer to America’s Budget Problem,”
by Richard A. Musgrave, Economic Policy Institute, 1989
“What’s Wrong With the Progressive Income Tax?”
by Burton Folsom, Mackinac Center, May 31, 1999
“Federal Mafia: How It Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes,”
by Irwin Schiff, Freedom Books, December, 1992
“Prove It: IRS Targets Low-Income Earners With Increased Scrutiny,”
by Mary Dalrymple, Associated Press, August 6, 2003
“To Thwart Fraud, I.R.S. and States Will Share Leads,”
by David Cay Johnston, The New York Times, September 17, 2003
“Saying Income Tax Is Illegal, Business Owners Quit Paying,”
by David Cay Johnston, The New York Times, September 18, 2003
“Republicans Plan Push for Elimination of IRS,”
by Matt Drudge, The Drudge Report, August 1, 2004
“Republicans Quietly Push Idea to Replace IRS,”
by William Neikirk, Chicago Tribune, August 15, 2004
“Bold Ideas About Taxes,”
by Stephen Slivinski, Detroit News, August 22, 2004
“Federal Tax System a Burden to Working Poor and Those on Fixed Incomes; Fair Tax Federal Retail Sales Tax Relieves That Burden,”, August 23, 2004
“Flat Tax Means Fat Tax,”
American Tax Reduction Institute
“The National Sales Tax Disaster,”
by Anthony Gregory, December 9, 2004
“Value Added Tax Explained,”
BBC, Friday, September 23, 2005
“Does Paying Taxes Have to Be So Complicated?”
by Wayne T. Brough,, April 9, 2002
“Considering a National Sales Tax,”
by Dean Dansel, Cato Institute, October 17, 1997
“The Tax Reform Act of 1986: What It Wasn't,”
by Joseph J. Thorndike, The Tax History Project, October 18, 2006

More Information

Explore each candidate’s proposals for tax reform.

Hillary Clinton
Barack Obama
John McCain
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Americans for Tax Reform
The Patriotis
Tax Foundation
Taxpayers for Common Sense
We the People
Worldwide Tax
The Tax History Project


  • Researched by Melissa Joulwan
  • Written by Melissa Joulwan and Meghan Laslocky
  • Produced and edited by Meghan Laslocky
  • Designed by Rick Elizaga and Eric Westby
  • Created by KQED Interactive
  • In memory of Sean Fagan