With taxes on our mind what better time to review the history of America's income tax laws. It's doubtful if any alive today remember the days when there were no income taxes, after all they were unconstitutional until 1913. This is a Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" story.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution reads: "Powers Delegated to Congress: Enumerated powers: 1. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises (sales taxes), 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 ..." No income tax mentioned.
The 16th amendment was ratified on February 12, 1913. It reads: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever sources derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration." The "barn door was open - never to be closed again!" President Franklin D. Roosevelt began using "payroll deductions" in 1943 to help pay for World War II, but when Congress found out how easy it was to collect taxes through payroll deduction it was never rescinded.
Here is how our present income tax system was created. Teddy Roosevelt, a Progressive Republican, was president and the Democrats were anxious to regain power. In 1909 Sen. Joseph W. Bailey, a conservative Southern Democrat strongly opposed to income taxes, decided to embarrass the Republicans by forcing them to openly oppose an income tax bill similar to other income tax bills previously introduced, but always defeated. Bailey fully expected his tax bill to have strong opposition and to be easily defeated. But instead a growing element of progressives - including Roosevelt - supported the bill, giving it the votes necessary to pass both houses.
Unable to defeat it, congressional leaders panicked and introduced a constitutional amendment hoping it would be defeated by the states. But the proposed amendment soon took on a life of its own, picking up strong support with its powerful slogan: "Soak the Rich." It was ratified in four short years. "Soak the Rich" has been used by Democrats ever since. Passage nullified the Fourth Amendment "against unreasonable searches and seizures."
But the super-rich were never soaked, only the middle-class. House Resolution 3321, the first tax bill, was passed on October 3, 1913. Paragraph G was inserted by the rich to protect their wealth through the creation of charitable foundations. It reads: "Provided, however, that nothing in this section shall apply ... to any corporation or association organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes." All super-rich foundations today qualify under one or more of these categories.
With today's new Obama/Reid/Pelosi health care bill it is more than just the "Rich" who will be "Soaked" to help pay for its enormous cost; it will even be more than the middle class - it will be our children and unborn grandchildren who will pay. Jefferson reminded our generation, in the Declaration of Independence: "Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed." Then he added "[but] When a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them (the people) under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
A new bumper sticker suggests the people are beginning to take Jefferson's council more seriously. The bumper sticker reads: SOCIALISM - "Poverty Equally Divided." Today the people are upset, as was Samuel Adams. Watch out "Your Majesty" when the people get upset!"
Donald Conkey, a retired agricultural economist, lives in Woodstock.