Tax returns due on March 15 (1920)

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Income taxes due in March? Yep! In 1920, IRS tax returns were due on March 15. The due date didn’t change to April 15 until 1955.

Income tax returns due

Businessmen, farmers and wage workers must file schedules of income for 1919

March 15 last filing date

Net incomes of $1,000 or over, if single; or $2,000 or over if married, must be reported.

The Income Tax imposed by Act of Congress on earnings of the year 1919 is now being collected. Returns under oath must be made on or before March 15 by every citizen and resident who had a net income for 1919 amounting to:

  • $1,000 or over, if single; or if married and living apart from wife (or husband); or if widowed or divorced.
  • $2,000 or over, if married and living with wife (or husband).

The status of the person on the last day of the year fixes the status for the year with respect to the above requirements. Under any of these circumstances, a return must be made, even though no tax is due.

Husband and wife must consider the income of both, plus that of dependent minor children, in meeting this requirement; and, if sufficient to require a return, all items must be shown in a joint return or in separate returns of husband and wife. A single person with minor dependents must include the income of such dependents. A minor who has a net income of $1,000 or more is not considered a dependent, and must file a separate return.

Personal returns should be made on Form 1040A, unless the net income exceeded $5,000, in which case Form 1040 should be used.

Residents of South Carolina should file their returns with, and make payments of Income Tax to Duncan C Heyward, Collector of Internal Revenue, Columbia.

How to figure income

The best way to find out whether one must file a return is to get a Form 1040A and follow the instructions printed on it. That form will serve as a reminder of every item of income, and if a return is due, it tells how to prepare and file it.

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If in doubt on any point as to income or deductions, a person may secure free advice and aid from the nearest Internal Revenue office.

Guesswork, estimates and other hit or-miss methods are barred when a person is making out his Income Tax return. Accuracy and completeness must be insisted upon. The return is a sworn statement. As such, it must be thorough and accurate. Salaried persons and wage earners must ascertain the actual compensation received. Overtime, bonuses, shares in the profits of a business, value of quarters and board furnished by the employer and other items which are compensations for services must be included.

It must be borne in mind that compensation may be paid in other forms than in cash. A bonus paid in Liberty Bonds is taxable at the market value of the bonds. A note received in pay ment for services is taxable income at its face value, and the interest upon it is also taxable.

Other returns due

Every partnership doing business in the United States must file a return on Form 1005; and every personal service corporation must file a similar return. Corporations must file annual returns on Form 1120.

Trustees, executors, administrators and others acting in a fiduciary capacity are required to file returns. In some cases, Form 1041 is used; in others, Form 1040; and still others, returns on both forms are required. Information returns, on Forms 1099 and 109G, must be filed by every organization, firm or person who paid, during 1919, an amount of $1,000 in salary, wages, interest, rent, or other fixed or determinable income to an other person, partnership, personal service corporation or fiduciary. These information returns should be forwarded directly to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (sorting division), Washington, DC.

Income tax in a nutshell

WHO — Single persons who had net income of $1,000 or more for the year 1919; Married couples who had net income of $2,000 or more.

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WHEN — March 15, 1920 is final date for filing returns and making first payments.

WHERE — Collector of Internal Revenue for District in which the person resides.

HOW — Full directions on Form 1040A and Form 1040; also the law and regulations.

WHAT — Four percent normal tax on taxable income up to $4,000 in excess of exemption. Eight percent normal tax on balance of taxable income. Surtax, from one percent to sixty-five percent, on net incomes over $5,000.


Photo at top: Group of people filling out tax forms in Internal Revenue office; 1920. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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