The only section of the U.S.
Constitution that actually authorizes Congress to make laws
and imposing taxes is Article 1, Section 8.
|U.S. Constitution, Article
1, Section 8
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts
and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and
general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and
Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
This section also tells Congress that
any Duty, Impost or Excise shall be
geographically uniform. This is the class of taxes
commonly referred to as the "indirect"
class of taxes.
Constitution, Article 1, Section 2
among the several States which may be included within this Union,
according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by
adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to
Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three
fifths of all other Persons.
Amendment converted the three fifths accounting so that the whole
number of persons in each state should be counted.)
Direct Taxes shall be apportioned.
We are told once.
|U.S. Constitution, Article
1, Section 9
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in
Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed
to be taken.
Direct Taxes shall be apportioned
according to the Census. We are told twice.
This rule in
regard to Direct Taxes is so
important, the founders put it in the Constitution TWICE.
Direct Taxes shall
| Brushaber v. Union
Pacific R. Co., 240 U.S. 1
The court, fully recognizing in the passage which we have previously
quoted the allembracing character of the two great classifications,
including, on the one hand, direct
taxes subject to apportionment, and on the other, excises, duties, and imposts subject to
uniformity, held the law to be unconstitutional in substance for
Concluding that the
classification of direct was adopted for the purpose of rendering it
impossible to burden by taxation accumulations of property, real or
personal, except subject to the regulation of apportionment, it
was held that the duty existed to fix what was a direct tax in the
constitutional sense so as to accomplish this purpose contemplated by
The class of direct taxes insures that real
property (real estate) and personal property (personal estate) can only
be taxed subject to the rule of
v. Farmer’s Loan & Trust Co., 157 U.S. 429 (1895)
Nothing can be clearer than that what the
constitution intended to guard against was the exercise by the general
government of the power of directly
taxing persons and property within any state through a majority made up
from the other states.
It is true that the effect of requiring direct taxes to be apportioned
among the states in proportion to their population is necessarily that
the amount of taxes on the individual taxpayer in a state having the
taxable subject-matter to a larger extent in proportion to its
population than another state has, would be less than in such other
state; but this inequality must be
held to have been contemplated, and was manifestly designed to operate
to restrain the exercise of the power of direct taxation to
extraordinary emergencies, and to prevent an attack upon accumulated
property by mere force of numbers.
The purpose of the rule of
apportionment is to protect property from attacks by majorities in
other states. The purpose of the rule of apportionment is to "restrain the exercise
of the power of direct taxation to
contemplated is shown in the example on the next page.