Taxes then and now

How can we get Andrew Chamberlain to post more often at The Idea Shop? Here is his latest:

Some famous tax beginnings–and where they’ve ended up:

Up in Smoke: The first federal tobacco tax was passed July 1, 1862, and raised $8,592,000 in 1864. By 2003, federal tobacco taxes raised $8.2 billion, a 948-fold increase. At $4 per pack, that’s enough to build 14 full-size replicas of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa out of cigarette packs. Laid end to end, those cigarettes would stretch from the Earth to the Moon, nine times.

Fueling Taxes: The first state gas tax–one cent per gallon–was passed in Oregon on February 15, 1919, and raised $443,000 the following year. Today, Oregon’s gas tax is 24 cents per gallon, with 2002 collections of $396 million, an 893-fold increase. At today prices that’s enough to buy the gas needed to drive a Honda Accord at 60 miles per hour for twelve and half years–long enough to circle the earth about 265 times.

License to Tax: The first law requiring auto license plates passed in New York on April 25, 1901, and the $1 fee brought in $1,082 the following year. By 2001 motor vehicle registration fees raised $583 million, a stunning 539,000-fold increase. At $2 per mile, that’s enough for a one-mile New York City cab ride for every man, woman and child in the United States–tip not included.

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