A brief history of US taxation


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Entrepreneurship | Posted on 12-04-2024

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The High Cost of Tax Complexity in America: Time for Reform

The United States tax system has evolved from a simple structure based on the revolutionary principle of “no taxation without representation” to a labyrinthine maze of rules, regulations, and requirements. Today, the sheer complexity of the tax code imposes heavy financial, time, and psychological burdens on individuals and businesses. This article delves into the current state of U.S. taxation, quantifying the enormous costs of compliance and highlighting the urgent need for reform.

The Origins of U.S. Taxation

The story of taxation in America began with the Boston Tea Party and the rallying cry against “taxation without representation” that fueled the American Revolution. Out of this foundational experience emerged a tax system rooted in principles of fairness and democratic representation1.

Over time, this system grew in complexity. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was established in 1862 to collect excise taxes and a temporary income tax to fund the Civil War2. The 16th Amendment in 1913 made the federal income tax permanent, and World War II brought the advent of tax withholding from wages in 1943, transforming tax collection and boosting compliance3.

The Compliance Burden on Individuals

As the tax code grew in complexity, so did the burden on individual taxpayers. In 2019, Americans spent an astounding 6.5 billion hours and $200 billion on tax compliance, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation4. That’s an average of 24 hours and $740 per individual taxpayer4.

Beyond the financial and time costs, tax season takes a psychological toll. A 2019 WalletHub survey found that 28% of Americans would rather serve jury duty than prepare their taxes5. The stress and anxiety surrounding tax preparation is a direct result of the system’s complexity.

Disturbingly, this burden falls disproportionately on low-income families. A 2018 ProPublica investigation revealed that the IRS audits low-income taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) at higher rates than the wealthy, in part because these audits are easier to conduct6. This raises troubling questions about the fairness of the current system.

The Crushing Load on Small Businesses

For small business owners, tax compliance is an even more daunting challenge. On top of federal income taxes, they must navigate a web of state and local taxes, including business license taxes, personal property taxes, franchise-excise taxes, payroll taxes, and sales and use taxes. Each tax type has its own complex rules and filing requirements.

The cost of this complexity is staggering. A 2017 survey by the National Small Business Association found that small businesses spend an average of $18,000 per year on tax compliance, with 58% of owners spending more than 40 hours per year on federal taxes alone7. This is time and money that could be invested in growing their businesses and creating jobs.

The psychological burden is also immense. A 2018 survey by Insureon found that 36% of small business owners cite tax compliance as their top business concern, ahead of issues like cash flow and customer acquisition8. The constant worry about getting taxes right takes a toll on entrepreneurs’ mental health and well-being.

The Tax Preparation Industry Paradox

The rise of tax complexity has fueled a booming tax preparation industry. Companies like H&R Block and Intuit (maker of TurboTax) have built billion-dollar businesses on the premise of helping taxpayers navigate the Byzantine tax code. In 2019, the tax preparation industry generated $11 billion in revenue9.

Ironically, these same companies have actively lobbied against efforts to simplify the tax system. ProPublica has extensively documented how Intuit has fought against return-free filing and other reforms that could reduce the need for their services10. This raises concerning questions about the influence of private interests on public policy.

The Global Perspective: Simpler Systems Abroad

The complexity of the U.S. tax system stands in stark contrast to the more streamlined approaches of other developed nations. In countries like Japan, the UK, and Germany, taxpayers with simple tax situations often don’t need to file returns at all11.

Under these “return-free” systems, the government uses information it already collects (such as W-2 forms) to calculate taxes owed and sends taxpayers a bill or refund. Taxpayers with more complex situations can still file returns, but for the majority, the process is simple and automatic. This approach saves time, reduces errors, and minimizes the need for costly tax preparation services.

The Path Forward: Simplicity, Transparency, Fairness

The current state of U.S. taxation is unsustainable. The immense financial, time, and psychological costs of compliance, coupled with the disproportionate burden on low-income families and small businesses, underscore the urgent need for reform.

Simplifying the tax code would be a good start. Eliminating loopholes, streamlining deductions and credits, and moving toward a return-free system for most taxpayers could significantly reduce compliance costs. Making the system more transparent would also boost public trust and understanding.

Ultimately, the goal should be a tax system that is simple, transparent, and fair. Taxpayers should be able to understand their obligations and trust that everyone is paying their fair share. Achieving this will require bold leadership and a willingness to stand up to special interests.


The history of taxation in the United States is a story of growing complexity and rising compliance costs. Today, the financial, time, and psychological burdens of this complexity are immense, falling heavily on individuals, small businesses, and low-income families.

By shining a light on these costs and contrasting the U.S. system with simpler models abroad, this article aims to spark a national conversation about the urgent need for tax reform. It’s time to envision a future where paying taxes is straightforward, transparent, and fair – a future where “tax season” is no longer a source of dread for millions of Americans.

The path forward won’t be easy. Powerful interests profit from the current system’s complexity. But the potential benefits – in economic growth, increased trust in government, and improved well-being for taxpayers – are too large to ignore. The time for reform is now.


  1. IRS. (2021). “Brief History of the IRS.” https://www.irs.gov/about-irs/brief-history-of-irs
  2. IRS. (2021). “Historical Highlights of the IRS.” https://www.irs.gov/about-irs/historical-highlights-of-the-irs
  3. U.S. Treasury Department. (2019). “History of the U.S. Tax System.” https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Taxes/Pages/historyrobot.aspx
  4. National Taxpayers Union Foundation. (2020). “How Long Americans Will Spend Doing Taxes in 2020.” https://www.ntu.org/foundation/detail/how-long-americans-will-spend-doing-taxes-in-2020
  5. WalletHub. (2019). “Tax Day 2019 Survey.” https://wallethub.com/blog/tax-survey/42524
  6. Kiel, P. & Eisinger, J. (2018). “Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000 — or $400,000?” ProPublica. https://www.propublica.org/article/earned-income-tax-credit-irs-audit-working-poor
  7. National Small Business Association. (2017). “2017 NSBA Small Business Taxation Survey.” https://www.nsba.biz/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017-NSBA-Small-Business-Taxation-Survey.pdf
  8. Insureon. (2018). “Top Small Business Risks & Challenges: Insureon 2018 Survey Results.” https://www.insureon.com/resources/reports/small-business-risk-survey-2018
  9. IBIS World. (2021). “Tax Preparation Services in the US – Market Size 2002–2027.” https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/tax-preparation-services-united-states/
  10. Elliott, J. (2019). “Inside TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free.” ProPublica. https://www.propublica.org/article/inside-turbotax-20-year-fight-to-stop-americans-from-filing-their-taxes-for-free
  11. Tax Policy Center. (2020). “Return-Free Tax Filing.” https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-other-countries-use-return-free-filing

Gizmo’s Guide to Basic Troubleshooting


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-02-2024

Gizmo’s Guide to Basic Troubleshooting

Gizmo’s Guide to Basic Troubleshooting

When your gadgets start acting up, the solution might be closer than you think. Follow this guide to troubleshoot and solve common problems with consumer-grade electronics, ensuring your devices are back in action swiftly.

1. Initial Discovery

Gather initial details to understand the problem:

  • When did the issue start, and what changes occurred around that time?
  • Describe the problem. How do you know the device isn’t working as expected?
  • Is the problem consistent or intermittent? Can it be replicated easily?
  • What troubleshooting steps have already been attempted, and what were their outcomes?

2. Environment and Setup

Inspect the device’s physical and network setup:

  • Assess the device’s placement, potential interference, or environmental factors.
  • Check the number of devices connected to your network and their impact.
  • Have any software updates or new installations occurred recently?

3. Technical Deep Dive

Delve into more technical aspects:

  • Verify the software version or firmware of the device.
  • Look for any error codes or messages that could indicate the problem.
  • Try accessing the service or device through alternative methods or devices.

4. Network-Specific Issues

For problems that might stem from network connectivity:

  • Confirm your ISP details and whether your plan meets your needs.
  • Perform network speed tests from various devices.
  • Reboot your modem and router to solve common connectivity issues.
  • Ensure a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout your space, considering the use of extenders or mesh systems if necessary.

5. Additional Tips from Experts

Incorporating wisdom from seasoned troubleshooters:

  • Prior Occurrence: If the device has a history of similar issues, check for common failures first.
  • Recent Alterations: Consider problems that started after recent changes or maintenance.
  • Function vs. Non-Function: Identify what the device is doing correctly to narrow down the problem areas.
  • Hypothesize: Based on your knowledge, consider various failures that could cause the observed issues and investigate accordingly.

6. When You’re Stuck

Remember, if the going gets tough, your Gizmo nerds are always here to dive deep and solve even the most perplexing issues. We’re dedicated to helping you get more done and have more fun, offering peace of mind and saving you time. Troubleshooting can often be as simple as restarting a device, but whatever the case, we’ve got you covered.


Troubleshooting is both an art and a science. By systematically working through these steps, you’re well on your way to becoming a proficient problem-solver. And remember, every problem solved is a lesson learned for the future.

Business Model Canvas


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-02-2024

Business Model Canvas: Mi Amigos AI

Business Model Canvas: Mi Amigos AI

Value Propositions

  • Custom software solutions for education, real estate, retail, IT
  • Cloud-based, GPT-powered products
  • Innovative tech use (OpenAI’s GPT, Bubble.io, etc.)
  • Strategic partnerships for specialized solutions
Customer Segments

  • Education sector
  • Real estate professionals
  • Retailers
  • IT companies

  • Partner channels
  • Social media
  • Google AdWords
  • AI phone sales
Customer Relationships

  • Contract-based development
  • Subscription-based SaaS
  • Direct support and feedback
Revenue Streams

  • Project-based income
  • Subscription revenue
Key Resources

  • Technology stack (GPT, Bubble.io, etc.)
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Founding team expertise
Key Activities

  • Software development and maintenance
  • Marketing and sales
  • Partnership management
Key Partnerships

  • Technology providers
  • Educational and IT partners
  • Niche market collaborations
Cost Structure

  • Operational and infrastructure costs
  • Employee compensation
  • Office and utility expenses
  • Community initiative investments
Key Metrics

  • Customer growth rate
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Product usage and profit margins
  • Overall client numbers

Mi Amigos AI


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Custom GPTs, Entrepreneurship | Posted on 13-01-2024

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Hey everyone!

I’m thrilled to share with you my latest venture, Mi Amigos AI. This innovative project is a culmination of my passion for technology and a vision to revolutionize the way we interact with AI in our daily lives.

At Mi Amigos AI, we’re pushing the boundaries of AI technology to create personalized digital assistants. These aren’t just any AI tools; they’re custom-designed to enhance your personal and professional life. Whether it’s helping with creative projects like screenplays, managing real estate investments, or providing tech support, our AI solutions are tailored to meet your unique needs.

As the technical lead of Mi Amigos AI, I’ve been deeply involved in developing these cutting-edge applications. Our team’s diverse expertise in AI, software development, and industrial automation is driving this venture forward, and I couldn’t be more excited about what we’re building.

I invite you to explore more about Mi Amigos AI and see how our solutions can benefit you. Check out our website at https://miamigos.ai/ and join us on this exciting journey into the future of AI!

Looking forward to sharing more updates with you soon.

Leonard Knight

GPT – ScreenPlay Sage


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Custom GPTs | Posted on 16-12-2023

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A demo of my latest GPT, the ScreenPlay Sage!

You can get your own copy of this GPT to use for your projects. I will be updating it regularly and will post update information here as comments to this post. If you don’t have a paid OpenAI account, you can get a free trial on me!

The hike


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Outdoors | Posted on 18-11-2023


In the heart of the Smokies, under skies so grand,
Leonard and Chris set out, a map in hand.
With boots laced up, and spirits so bright,
Off they went, to the mountains’ great height.

Through the woods they strolled, with jokes and fun banter,
Avoiding fried chicken — in bear country, that’s the answer.
For bears might love it, more than we know,
Best to leave it at home, and let nature’s beauty show.

On a path where the wildflowers sweetly bloom,
They laughed, imagining a bear with a chicken leg zoom.
But with respect and care, they trekked on their way,
Admiring the forest, where the gentle creatures play.

Around a bend, in a clearing so wide,
A bear in the distance, they spotted with pride.
From afar they admired, with a thrill in their heart,
Nature’s majesty, in which they were a part.

So remember, when hiking where the wild bears roam,
Leave the snacks at home, and let the bears alone.
With Leonard and Chris, adventure never ends,
In the Smoky Mountains, where the wild path bends.

Business Change Proposal Scorecard


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Entrepreneurship | Posted on 08-11-2023


Business Change Suggestion Scorecard

Business Change Suggestion Scorecard

Please fill out this scorecard to evaluate the viability of your suggestion before submitting it for review. Score each criterion honestly from 0 (Lowest) to 5 (Highest). If the total score is above a certain threshold (e.g., 20), consider your suggestion viable and prepare a detailed proposal for submission. If the score is below this threshold, it may be best to refine your idea further before proceeding.

Evaluation Criteria

Once you have completed the scorecard, tally your scores. If the cumulative score is above 20, please draft a proposal with your detailed plan and potential impact. This should include a more in-depth analysis of cost, benefits, and required resources. Submit your proposal to management for consideration. If your score is below 20, consider what improvements could be made to your suggestion to increase its viability.

Comparing Apples to Electric Apples: Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Electric Vehicles (EV) | Posted on 28-10-2023

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Comparing Apples to Electric Apples: Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T

Comparing Apples to Electric Apples: Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T

Hey folks! If you’re on the hunt for an electric truck, you’re in luck. We’re diving deep into two of the most talked-about options: the Ford F-150 Lightning and the Rivian R1T. Let’s get right into it.

Power Supply Capabilities

Let’s start with a show-stopper. The Ford F-150 Lightning comes equipped with Ford Intelligent Backup Power. Picture this: a power outage hits and—voila!—your truck starts powering your home. How cool is that? This feature activates when the truck is hooked up to its 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro. That’s not just a truck; it’s a backup generator!

What’s more, during an outage, the truck’s 19.2 kW home charging station transforms into a 9.6 kW power source for your home. And, oh, did I mention it has 110V outlets for your appliances and tools? It’s like your home away from home, right there in your driveway.

Let’s See How They Stack Up

Parameter Ford Lightning EV Rivian R1T
Size Bigger truck with a larger bed and frunk Shorter wheelbase and length
Power Output Higher power output
Acceleration Faster acceleration
Charging Lower DC fast charging rate Higher DC fast charging rate
Onboard Charger Lower onboard charger
Storage More existing accessories for the bed Gear tunnel and other clever storage spaces
Payload Capacity Higher payload capacity
Towing Capacity Similar to Rivian R1T Similar to Ford Lightning EV
Drive All-wheel drive with two permanent magnet electric motors (one per axle) All-wheel drive with four asynchronous motors (one per wheel)
Driving Range (miles) 230-320 230-400
Power Supply Capabilities Can power home during outages, has 110V outlets for tools and appliances, 9.6 kW power source during outages

The Ford Lightning’s power supply capabilities offer a whole new level of convenience. Whether it’s a power outage or a weekend DIY project, this truck’s got your back.

If you’ve got more questions or are curious about other vehicles, don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. Happy truck hunting!

When Your Hunting Dog Meets a Skunk: A Tried-and-True Solution


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Outdoors | Posted on 27-08-2023

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When Your Hunting Dog Meets a Skunk: A Tried-and-True Solution

When Your Hunting Dog Meets a Skunk: A Tried-and-True Solution

Ah, the great outdoors! It’s where I find peace, whether I’m hiking, fishing, or hunting with my trusty canine companions. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a four-legged friend who’s as enthusiastic about hunting as you are. Over the years, I’ve had the joy of owning various breeds, from Brittany Spaniels and German Shorthaired Pointers to Labradors. But no matter the breed, one outdoor hazard remains constant: skunks.

The Secret Sauce: Dawn, Baking Soda, and Hydrogen Peroxide

  1. Start with a Dry Dog: You might think hosing down your dog will help, but don’t! Water spreads the skunk oil, making things worse. Start with your dog dry.
  2. Mix Up a Magic Potion: Combine Dawn dish detergent, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide into a paste.
  3. Work it In: Massage this mixture into your dog’s fur, making sure to get it down to the skin, especially in the affected areas.
  4. Sensitive Spots: For the delicate areas around the eyes, nose, and face, use feminine wipes. They’re gentle yet effective for these sensitive spots.
  5. Let it Sit: Allow the mixture to sit on your dog’s fur for at least 10 minutes before washing it off.
  6. Rinse and Repeat: Wash your dog as usual, and if the smell persists, you can repeat the whole process.

And there you have it, my tried-and-true method to de-skunk your hunting dog. It’s saved me from countless stinky situations and kept my hunting trips enjoyable. I hope it does the same for you!

Beneath Feathers’ Embrace: A Tale of Compassion and Healing


Posted by Leonard Knight | Posted in Homestead Life | Posted on 24-06-2023

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The sisters

In the quiet tranquility of a small backyard farm, nestled amidst lush greenery, a harmonious community thrived. Rabbits, ducks, and chickens coexisted, their delightful presence bringing life and joy to the humble abode. A carefully constructed coop offered safety and security for the chickens and ducks, while the rabbits found solace in their cages gracefully hung on the fence, adorned with a delicate covering.

One serene morning, as the golden sun slowly climbed above the horizon, a scene of unexpected adversity unfolded. The farmer emerged from the comforts of home, ready to tend to the farm’s needs, only to discover that their contented flock of five ducks had been reduced to three. A sense of concern filled the air, and an anxious search commenced.

Amidst the search, the farmer’s gaze settled upon a heartbreaking sight. There, amidst the gentle morning light, lay a wounded duck, her delicate neck bleeding, and her throat cruelly cut. Despite the severity of her injuries, a flicker of life remained within her. Determined and compassionate, the farmer sprang into action, gently cradling the injured duck and rushing her to safety.

Days turned into a delicate dance of healing and observation. The once vibrant and lively duck seemed dazed, her spirit momentarily dampened by the harrowing experience she had endured. Lethargy shadowed her every movement, rendering her disoriented and unsure.

Beside their injured companion, the other three ducks stood as steadfast pillars of support. Sensing her confusion and vulnerability, they embarked on a silent mission to guide her back to the path of recovery. The small kiddie pool, a sanctuary of both playfulness and sustenance, became the stage where their beautiful display of compassion would unfold.

One by one, the three ducks approached their injured companion, their gentle wings outstretched as if embracing her wounded soul. With synchronized elegance, they bent down to drink from the pool’s glistening surface, a subtle invitation for their companion to follow suit.

The injured duck, her eyes filled with curiosity and uncertainty, observed her loyal friends with a mixture of awe and longing. She witnessed their synchronized movements, their graceful bows, and realized they were showing her the way. The way to quench her thirst, to find solace in the water’s cool embrace.

Slowly, ever so slowly, she lowered her bill toward the water’s edge, mirroring the actions of her devoted companions. As she sipped from the pool, a newfound spark danced in her eyes, a spark that rekindled her spirit and infused her frail body with strength.

Yet the journey had just begun. The three ducks, no longer content with guiding her to drink, embarked on a shared expedition of nourishment. They ventured toward the nearby feeding area, where nature’s bounty awaited them. One of the ducks, glancing back with a tender gaze, noticed their injured friend still standing by the pool, her longing evident.

Without hesitation, the compassionate duck waddled back toward her, nuzzling against her side with soft quacks and purrs. It was a gesture of encouragement, a silent plea to join the rest in their feast. And so, emboldened by this gesture of love, the injured duck followed her newfound friend, her steps growing more assured with each passing moment.

Together, they approached the food, a cornucopia of sustenance laid before them. The injured duck hesitated, uncertain of how to partake in this communal act. Sensing her unease, her companions took charge once again, demonstrating the simple pleasure of pecking and foraging. In that moment, barriers dissolved, and unity prevailed.

As they dined together, laughter seemed to echo through the farm, a joyous melody carried on the gentle breeze. The injured duck’s eyes sparkled with gratitude and newfound belonging. The wounds of her body began to heal, but more importantly, the wounds of her spirit mended as well.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. The injured duck, once on the brink of despair, now thrived in the warm embrace of her devoted companions. They became an inseparable quartet, their unity a testament to the resilience of friendship and the power of collective care.

The backyard farm became a tapestry of shared moments, each infused with tenderness and strength. The ducks’ once injured companion, now fully restored, embodied a spirit as vibrant as her feathered friends. The boundaries that once separated them vanished, leaving only a harmonious symphony of quacks, clucks, and playful leaps.

Together, they explored the world beyond their coop and cages, venturing into the vast expanse of nature that stretched beyond the farm’s boundaries. Their vibrant feathers glistened under the golden sun, as if mirroring the radiance of their spirits.

The injured duck’s journey of healing became an emblem of hope, inspiring all who witnessed the transformative power of compassion. Neighbors and friends marveled at the remarkable bond between the ducks, enchanted by the harmony that permeated their daily lives.

In the cool twilight hours, the four friends would return to their sanctuary—the small kiddie pool that had witnessed their tale of resilience and love. They would gather around its edge, dipping their bills into the water, relishing the simple pleasures of camaraderie and refreshment.

And so, the story of the injured duck’s recovery became etched into the very fabric of the backyard farm. It served as a reminder that within the smallest corners of our world, extraordinary acts of kindness and compassion can blossom, transforming lives and bringing light to even the darkest of moments.

As the seasons changed and the years rolled by, the farm remained a testament to the enduring bonds forged in adversity. The ducks’ feathers weathered the passage of time, but the imprints of their shared journey remained forever etched upon their hearts.

Visitors to the farm would often ask about the ducks—how they had become inseparable, how they had healed wounds both seen and unseen. And the farmer would share the tale, their voice filled with a mix of awe and gratitude, for they had been fortunate to witness the beauty of resilience firsthand.

In that humble backyard farm, the ducks continued to dance through life together, their every quack and flutter a living testament to the unbreakable power of friendship. The injured duck, now indistinguishable from her companions, reveled in the simple pleasures that the farm offered. With each step she took, her spirit soared, embodying the farm’s enduring legacy—a legacy of compassion, healing, and an unwavering spirit of unity.