FYI: This year,” says the narrator, “thanks to Hitler and Hirohito, taxes are higher than ever before. Will you have enough money on hand to meet your payments?”
Donald Duck nods his head.
Walt Disney created several government films in the 1940s to promote wartime patriotism. One, in 1943, aimed at a particularly scary problem: Taxes were hiked several times to pay for the war, but even die-hard citizens were tempted to spend their paycheck without saving enough for an annual tax payment. “Tax debt” ballooned. As the marginal tax rate for a family with a $5,000 income rose from 8% in 1939 to 22% by 1943, getting people to save enough to pay their taxes was as big a problem as convincing them that taxes were necessary. Gallup asked Americans in 1942 if they were saving for tax payments. Less than 15% said they were.
The Treasury reached for solutions. Most were public awareness campaigns like the Donald Duck video. It also plastered the country with signs like these: