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Uniform taxes in the Constitution

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US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 states

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Does this mean that all taxes imposed by Congress must be uniform throughout the country? If so, this makes a whole lot of taxes unconstitutional.

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It means that the same federal tax regulations apply equally in South Carolina as they would in New York, or as Justice Story wrote, "The reason for the later rule is to prevent Congress from giving any undue preference to the pursuits or interests of one State over those of any other."

Do you have something in particular in mind as a violation of that? As the statement applies to the entire US and not just the states, I would think that Puerto Rican exemption from federal income tax would violate that clause as would proposals to exempt residents of DC.

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It means that the same federal tax regulations apply equally in South Carolina as they would in New York, or as Justice Story wrote, "The reason for the later rule is to prevent Congress from giving any undue preference to the pursuits or interests of one State over those of any other."

Do you have something in particular in mind as a violation of that? As the statement applies to the entire US and not just the states, I would think that Puerto Rican exemption from federal income tax would violate that clause as would proposals to exempt residents of DC.

I was thinking of things like the income tax which is not uniform.

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"I was thinking of things like the income tax which is not uniform."

How does income tax not apply uniformly to citizens of different states? Other than the exemption of some territorial residents, an argument could be made that the federal income tax is not uniform based upon the deduction of state and local taxes as they result in citizens from low tax states paying relatively higher federal income taxes, but successfully arguing that would simply invalidate those deductions.

That my neighbor and I may pay a different amount of federal income tax does not violate the clause you cite.

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It means that the same federal tax regulations apply equally in South Carolina as they would in New York, or as Justice Story wrote, "The reason for the later rule is to prevent Congress from giving any undue preference to the pursuits or interests of one State over those of any other."

Do you have something in particular in mind as a violation of that? As the statement applies to the entire US and not just the states, I would think that Puerto Rican exemption from federal income tax would violate that clause as would proposals to exempt residents of DC.

But even Justice Story's idea never really worked as preference could be and was given to many states at the expense of others. For example, during the middle decades of the 19th century, the Southern states paid a large amount in tariffs (more than 90% of federal tax revenue came from tariffs) as they purchased many goods from Europe and a lot of the collected money was being spent in the Northern states. As a matter of fact, the tariff rate raised the prices of imported goods by almost 50 percent.

Paul, does it really matter at this point if the taxes are un-Constitutional as the Constitution was squashed more than a century ago. Today the government taxes many people at the benefit of others when they tax the average person's behavior by implementing higher taxes on gas, cigarettes, alcohol, fast cars and much more. Although I do think you have a point, I do not think that it will matter until the philosophical battle is won.

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"I was thinking of things like the income tax which is not uniform."

How does income tax not apply uniformly to citizens of different states? Other than the exemption of some territorial residents, an argument could be made that the federal income tax is not uniform based upon the deduction of state and local taxes as they result in citizens from low tax states paying relatively higher federal income taxes, but successfully arguing that would simply invalidate those deductions.

That my neighbor and I may pay a different amount of federal income tax does not violate the clause you cite.

I was thinking of the difference in percentage based upon income that everyone pays. How would you reconcile me paying 30% of my income and someone else paying 5% of their income with the constitutional requirement that all taxes be uniform?

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Paul, does it really matter at this point if the taxes are un-Constitutional as the Constitution was squashed more than a century ago. Today the government taxes many people at the benefit of others when they tax the average person's behavior by implementing higher taxes on gas, cigarettes, alcohol, fast cars and much more. Although I do think you have a point, I do not think that it will matter until the philosophical battle is won.

I am interested just for informational purposes. I realize that there are so many areas of modern life involving government actions and interference that should be declared unconstitutional.

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I was thinking of the difference in percentage based upon income that everyone pays. How would you reconcile me paying 30% of my income and someone else paying 5% of their income with the constitutional requirement that all taxes be uniform?

It is an issue of context; the rules have to be uniform not the amount of taxes paid. The issue you raise is a policy issue, not a constitutional issue.

Another example about how this clause might apply would be the old Republican idea of enterprise zones.

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...

Do you have something in particular in mind as a violation of that?...

I was thinking of things like the income tax which is not uniform.

I think you're right, and in fact this might be the reason that, before the ratification of the 16th amendment, income taxes were ruled unconstitutional - because of being non-uniform. But then that amendment specifically added the provision to the Constitution that an income tax was now permissible. -_- Presumably that means the tax is allowed in spite of being non-uniform.

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...

Do you have something in particular in mind as a violation of that?...

I was thinking of things like the income tax which is not uniform.

I think you're right, and in fact this might be the reason that, before the ratification of the 16th amendment, income taxes were ruled unconstitutional - because of being non-uniform. But then that amendment specifically added the provision to the Constitution that an income tax was now permissible. -_- Presumably that means the tax is allowed in spite of being non-uniform.

The reason that income taxes were unconstitutional was because there was no provision to allow income taxes, not because it was not uniform. There actually used to be a time when people actually knew that the federal government could only do what the Constitution allowed it to.

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