Editor's Note: This is an area where Wikipedia falls short without substantial research into the history of the income tax system and IRS.
A tax (from the Latin taxo; "rate") is a financial charge or other levy imposed upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state to fund various public expenditures. A failure to pay, or evasion of or resistance to taxation, is usually punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many administrative divisions. Taxes consist of direct or indirect taxes and may be paid in money or as its labour equivalent. Few countries impose no taxation at all, such as the United Arab Emirates and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The government agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and the administration of the Internal Revenue Code. It has also overseen various benefit programs.
The first income tax was assessed in 1862 to raise funds for the American Civil War, with a rate of 3%. Today the IRS collects over $2.4 trillion each tax year. It processes around 234 million tax returns annually.
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