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Ruml file photo [5753]

Beardsley Ruml

Given NameBeardsley
Born5 Nov 1894
Died18 Apr 1960
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseBeardsley Ruml was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States to a physician. He completed his college degree from Dartmouth College in 1915, and received his Ph.D. degree in psychology and education from the University of Chicago in 1917. In 1917, he married Lois Treadwell, with whom he had three children. In 1918, he helped design aptitude and intelligence tests for the United States Army; he viewed society as groups whose traits could be measured on a scale of normality and deviance. Between 1922 and 1929, he directed the fellowship program of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund, then became an adviser to President Herbert Hoover in 1930. In 1931, he was the dean of the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, which was known for quantitative research.

ww2dbaseIn 1934, Ruml became an economist and treasurer of R. H. Macy & Company in New York City, New York, United States, the owner of Macy's department stores. He noticed that when Macy's employees retired and began living on their pensions, they enter financial difficulty. He found that the recent retirees had to pay their previous year's income taxes while having to live at a lower income level. Looking beyond his own company, he found that a widow he knew suffered a heavy burden having to pay for her recently-deceased husband's taxes while not having any income to pay them with. Realizing that a similar scenario would play out to all draftees leaving their high-paying jobs for United States Army pay of only $50 a month once the US entered WW2, he warned that the system would collapse. Some time during the winter of 1940 to 1941, he came up with a "pay-as-you-go" system, as he called it, of paying income taxes; it called for everyone to pay the current year's taxes by having the money deducted from paychecks, thus allowing everyone to start a new tax year free of tax burden. The idea initially faced serious opposition because it required an one-time forgiveness as the system switched from one to another. On 1 Jul 1943, this idea of Ruml's entered into American law with a forgiveness to lower income families only, while the rich only received a partial forgiveness. This innovative way to collect income tax survived through the WW2 era and lasted until today.

ww2dbaseIn 1945, Ruml became the chairman of R. H. Macy & Company while serving as a director of the New York Federal Reserve Bank between 1937 and 1947.

ww2dbaseSources: Washington Goes to War, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Mar 2008

Beardsley Ruml Timeline

5 Nov 1894 Beardsley Ruml was born.
18 Apr 1960 Beardsley Ruml passed away.


Ruml speaking before the United States Congress, 1953

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Ruml speaking before the United States Congress, 1953

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