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Happy Sweet 16
Learn how the 16th Amendment came to be in response to the most colorful Supreme Court ever in our history.
Today we celebrate the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This little-known amendment brings us so much joy around April was ratified by three-fourths of states on this day in 1913.
The 16th Amendment allows Congress to levy an income tax without any nonsense from the states. It is a direct response to a Supreme Court ruling in 1895 that decided a recent law passed, creating the unconstitutional federal income tax. Take that, Chief Justice Fuller!
The US used to generate revenue by tariffs, taxes on goods coming into the country. Average tariffs rose since the founding, growing to 60% by 1860, the year before a major fight broke out amongst us. The Revenue Act of 1861 was the first income tax implemented based on individual property. It was repealed in 1872 because we whipped the Confederates.
In 1894 we brought the income tax back. Chief Justice Fuller and four other white, presumably straight, Christian men voted for the plaintiff in the case of Someone versus Whatever, which basically said income tax was bad. Four different white, presumably straight, Christian men dissented. Justice John Harlan was so disentful, he dissented twice, once on his own and once with fellow Justice White.
That Supreme Court was so colorful back then. You had a Gray, a White, and a Brown. They probably thought themselves diverse.
The Court Full of Many Colors said income tax was a direct tax, and you are probably wondering what an indirect tax is, and I have no idea if such a thing exists. But the Constitution only allowed Congress to tax as a proportion to each state’s population. People like me in DC will still pay taxes no matter what because we are Super Special Americans.
The best thing about income tax is getting a return. I filed my taxes already, and the IRS opened back up around February 12th. I received my return yesterday.
The 16th Amendment ain’t too bad when you only think of it as a positive.