Our federal income tax law did not have special treatment for capital gains until a much lower rate (12.5% rather than a top rate of 73%) was added by the Revenue Act of 1921 (P.L. 67-87; 11/23/1921).

So, November 23 marks 100 years of complexity, lots of discussion on why and how there should be any preference for capital gains, and fairly constant changes to these rules.

The Revenue Act of 1921 defined capital asset as “property acquired and held by the taxpayer for profit or investment for more than two years (whether or not connected with his trade or business), but does not include property held for the personal use or consumption of the taxpayer or his family, or stock in trade of the taxpayer or other property of a kind which would properly be included in the inventory of the taxpayer if on hand at the close of the taxable year.”

The 1921 Act also