Internal Revenue Service staffers explain how the United States has been handling death taxes since 1862 in the latest IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin.

In 1864, for example, the cost of the Civil War led the federal government to impose a tax of 1% on property left to ancestors and lineal descendants, a rate of 2% on property left to siblings, and a rate of 6% on property left to charities and unrelated individuals.

In 1898, the “legacy tax” rate ranged from 0.75% for estates of $10,000 to $25,000 left to lineal descendants, ancestors and siblings, up to 15% for estates greater than $1 million left to recipients other than close relatives.

A copy of the bulletin is available