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The Revenue Act of 1861, formally cited as Act of August 5, 1861, Chap. XLV, 12 Stat. 292, included the first U.S. Federal income tax statute (see Sec.49). The Act, motivated by the need to fund the Civil War [79950], imposed an income tax to be "levied, collected, and paid, upon the annual income of every person residing in the United States, whether such income is derived from any kind of property, or from any profession, trade, employment, or vocation carried on in the United Statesmarker or elsewhere, or from any other source whatever [ . . . .]”

Rates under the Act were 3% on income above $800 (adjusted for inflation: $17,679 in dollars [79951]) and 5% on income of individuals living outside the country.

The Revenue Act of 1861 was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President. This Act introduced Federal income tax as a flat rate tax.

The income tax provision ( Sections 49, 50 and 51) was repealed by the Revenue Act of 1862. (See Sec.89, which replaced the flat rate with a progressive scale of 3% on annual incomes beyond $600 and 5% on incomes above $10,000 or those living outside the U.S., and perhaps more significantly it was explicitly temporary, specifying termination of income tax in " the year eighteen hundred and sixty-six").


  1. Revenue Act of 1861, sec. 49, 12 Stat. 292, at 309 (Aug. 5, 1861).

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