An aluminum token with a round hole pierced through the center surrounded by concentric circles and embossed on one side "1/ Alabama State/ Department of Revenue/ 1", and on the reverse "1/ Sales Tax Token/ 1". In the 1930s when sales taxes were first instituted due to the Depression, these tokens were issued to facilitate taxing even a one-cent purchase. The denomination of a tax token was often as small as one mill or one-tenth cent. Millions of them were made, and thousands were carried out of state by travelers. They were made from aluminum, copper, brass, zinc, wood, plastic and fiber and cardboards and were issued in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington states. The federal government initially reacted with alarm because states appeared to be creating a new currency - something reserved in the Constitution to the federal government. The Department of Treasury tried to halt the growing use of tax tokens, but failed. To reduce the federal government's concerns, most sales tax tokens looked very different from the national currency, e.g., plastic tokens, square tokens, holes.
Gift of Bella C. Landauer
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