April 1st is April Fool’s Day—what’s the origin of this pranksters’ holiday? My extensive Wikipedia research revealed that it really is a day to celebrate pranks and tricks on friends and neighbors.
Isn’t it a stroke of irony and whimsy that we have to file and pay our taxes on April 15th each year! April Fools! No, it’s not a joke. We really do have to pay our taxes. Our long-suffering, but valiant accountants and tax preparers can attest to that.
While taxes have been around since time immemorial, the income tax in the United States is a relatively new invention. In 1862 the first income tax was adopted to finance the Civil War. The tax return was only 4 pages long, which included one page of instructions! The highest tax rate, for income over $10,000 maxed out at 5%; the lowest tax rate was just 1%! Just 10 years later Congress actually repealed the income tax—how nice! But in April Fool’s style, the tax was restored with a flat rate income tax which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. Hooray for the lawyers! However, the 16th Amendment, passed in 1909 and ratified in 1913, made the income tax constitutional: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” April Fools?
The income tax has its origins in the Civil War, a war that changed our country. The Civil War revolutionized the law, politics, government, economies, foreign relations and social institutions. Some of the same issues that dominated the Civil War era continue to reverberate today—race relations, Federal vs. State “rights,” the role of government, taxation, etc.
At this month’s meeting—April 15th of all days!–we’re lucky to have journalist and author Bill Bleyer as our featured speaker. As a Newsday journalist for over 30 years, Bill has been in a unique position to observe Long Island and how it’s evolved over the years. He’s also a student of the Civil War and has a new book about how Long Island was affected and contributed to the war effort in the 1860s. Our April 15th meeting should be very exciting and interesting.
What does this history lesson have to do with our Chamber? We’re changing and adapting just the way our country changed in the crucible of the Civil War. We’re using technology; our markets are global; we’re communicating in ways we never even dreamed of; and we’re more productive and creative. I heard a news report on the radio that designers of retail space have to change store designs and promotions on a daily basis in order to adapt to technology and connect with customers to get them into their stores. While technology may have the effect of making us more distant and remote, in order to do business effectively we still need to connect. Didn’t Jeff Goldberg, last month’s speaker, tell us something very simple but profound: in order to increase sales, you have to make more calls and take more meetings. You have to connect.
In the midst of all the technological and social changes we experience, the one changeless element for success is the vibrant relationships and connections we forge with our friends, families and business partners. Our Chamber demonstrates this success on a daily basis with members regularly working to refer and do business with each other. Our newest members got a taste of that at our recent New Members’ Breakfast—beginning to meet and connect and learning about each other’s businesses and expectations as Chamber members. With strong and vibrant relationships, we can do anything.
Talk about connecting—the Chamber is sponsoring a Free Networking Event, hosted by Richard LeShaw of TD Bank, on April 28th from 6-7:30 pm. Come on down—it should be lots of fun. CLICK HERE TO RSVP!
Lastly, don’t forget about an important opportunity to become more involved and connected. Our Chamber continues to grow. Right now, we have over 155 members. We want to offer more programs and more opportunities for members to become involved. The Board voted to expand the number of seats on the board from 11 to 13. In May, when we have our annual Board elections, in addition to four “incumbent” seats up for election, there will be two brand new seats open. Being on the Board is a great way to become more involved in Chamber activities. There are only two qualifications: you have to be a member for at least one continuous year prior to the election and you want to be more involved! If you want to run for any of the Board seats, including the brand new seats (top vote getters are elected), CLICK HERE to put your name in the hat!
On behalf of the Board, I’d like to wish you and your families a very Happy Easter and a very Happy Passover!