The United States ran on sin taxes for 150 years. Most of it’s existence. There was no income tax on Americans. Minimal or no property tax. sin tax was the way government generated revenue. And it worked amazing. That is, until the income tax came along.
The income tax is considered a part of life, but most Americans forget that it’s not old. It’s pretty new. And the reason it was started was to replace a sin tax in the first place.
During the 1800s, the temperance movement began to flourish in the US. millions of people were advocating for an abolishment of alcohol by 1900. The problem with this was that the government made on alcohol. lots of it. Sin tax was the single greatest generator of revenue for the federal government by 1900. And it made perfect sense. If you want to indulge in alcohol, you can fund public services for it. But banning alcohol would take away that revenue stream. So the temperance movement had the 16th amendment passed, which allowed the government to collect an income tax.
by doing this, the prohibitionists now had an answer to anti prohibitionists who brought up the lost revenue; the government can replace it with taxation of income. And not everyone’s income. This tax only applied to the 1% in the beginning. So with that, the prohibitionists were able to pass prohibition, considered the worst amendment to the constitution ever created.
Eventually, as many Americans do know, this amendment was repealed. However the income tax stayed too. Today, it’s morphed into a monstrosity that nobody wants to challenge. And that’s a shame.
To learn more about the history of the income tax, consider watching Ken Burns’ documentary series titled Prohibition, which is on netflix.