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  • What's the Limit on Congress's Power to Tax?

    The Supreme Court on Thursday introduced lawmakers to a new Obamacare.

    The justices held that Congress does not have the power under the Commerce Clause to force you to buy health insurance, even though that’s what lawmakers and the President thought they were doing when they passed the law. Instead, the Court held that Congress may and did impose a mandate as part of its taxing power, even though that’s what policymakers insisted they weren’t doing.

    That could put an entirely different spin on the mandate since, to put it mildly, taxes have been a big deal in American history.

    The American Revolution began as a tax revolt. The issue wasn’t the amount of the taxes; it was the process by which they were levied. Specifically, the colonists objected to “taxation without representation”—Parliament levied taxes without the consent of representatives in the colonists’ local legislatures.

    When drafting the Constitution, the Framers sought to rectify this issue. They gave Congress the power to levy indirect taxes and direct taxes.

    The Framers did not want states, interests, or industries to use the national legislature to burden other states, interests, or industries unjustly. Therefore, the Constitution creates certain limitations on indirect taxes and direct taxes: Indirect taxes are subject to the Uniformity Clause, and direct taxes are subject to apportionment.

    Indirect taxes were meant to fund the national government in ordinary circumstances. These included “Duties, Imposts, and Excises”—generally, taxes on articles of consumption. If Congress raised rates too high, then people would not purchase the taxed goods, and revenue would decrease.

    Direct taxes did not have the built-in protections characteristic of indirect taxes. Direct taxes were imposed directly on individuals, who cannot shift their liability to others. To guard against abuse, direct taxes must be apportioned. The 16th Amendment empowered Congress to lay direct taxes on income without being apportioned.

    For more information on Congress’s taxing power, check out ConstitutionOnline.com.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to What's the Limit on Congress's Power to Tax?

    1. Stirling says:

      I would really like to see the GOP create a "Require Guns for all Americans" bill after 2012 election.. This would show all Liberals that even if they don't want guns they can be "Taxed" if they don't buy or have one.. Then given the Obamacare ruling yesterday they would realize that it too is constitonal (by Roberts views).

      Liberals don't realize often that the laws they create to dis-advantage some groups (by wealth redistribution) to their benefit can be used against them as well. This is really why any law needs to be in everyones best intrest rather then the few who force laws against the peoples will.

      • Swami CH says:

        That is a great idea. It is high time for the liberals to realize that what they force upon others, can come back to bite them, in the backside.

      • Rachel says:

        Some states actually already have this law, although it is fairly antiquated. For instance, it is on the books in Georgia as a requirement for every household to have a gun that can be used in times of need to form a militia.

        In my opinion, the problem with 'requiring' guns for all Americans would be that, just as Obamacare is forcing people to purchase healthcare whether they want it or not, this would force everyone to buy a gun. I don't believe that the government should tell us how to spend our money or what to buy with it.

        I would however be in favor of mandatory weapons safety training classes as a requirement for graduating from high school. I think this would be a more feasibly way of handling the issue and kids would be getting safety training in case they are called upon to serve someday.

    2. Harold says:

      In light of the Supreme Court's decision to expand the taxation authority of Congress, it seems there must be an intense effort to ammend the constitution to limit the powers of Congress to impose manadates through taxation.

    3. It was just one more blow to or freedom.

    4. Bob says:

      To the finishing demise of our beloved Constitution Ms. Shaw, your argument no longer holds water or anything else. This is because the former American known as John Roberts is now Comrade Roberts. He alone has seen to it that the people of the newest social country on the planet can tax it's people for whatever reason, whenever it please without warrant or rhyme. That is to say that we now have no say in what our present or perspective leaders do as a peoples. Our one saving grace is the Lord Almighty!

    5. AlfromFl says:

      I personally don't think that it was appropriate for Chief Roberts to rewrite the law – only to judge its constitutionality but as Chief Roberts said – it is not the job of the Supreme Court to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices. So in Nov vote out the democrats and work to shore up the republican party with conservatives. One thing I do wonder – if a tax exempt organization refuses to provide health care coverage, how do you tax a tax exempt organization?

    6. Bobbie says:

      Congress shouldn't have any power taxing any basic necessities of common survival! Human decency! Horses in hotels and that kind of pathetic crap should be enough to tax to avoid increases elsewhere! Activists across America!

      They drew the fight to protect and defend their insecurities, refusing the rise above using their insecurities to cheat their way in. Accountability has to be held and those accountable to it. Who would ever think of a fellow American these clowns make themselves out to be? What unscrupulous human disrespects.

      Keep the constitution handy. There are many that continue to learn her true meaning and the self respect and bond it builds in a people! Maybe we'll get justice from this incomprehensible acts of abuse.

    7. steve851 says:

      Even though Congress chose to call the tax a penalty, it otherwise had all the characteristics of a tax, and was therefore within in Congress's constitutional powers. And calling it a mandate was another misnomer because it was not. It would only have been a mandate if the tax equaled the cost of insurance (instead of a somewhat insignificant tax burden costing less than two months insurance premiums). Now, had Congress enacted a true mandate (a tax equal to the cost of insurance), it would no longer be regarded as a tax, but as a true penalty and likely unconstitutional. I know this may seem semantic, but it is not. It is looking at the reality of the situation instead of being misled by semantics

    8. David says:

      Chief Justice Roberts did no such thing. He merely affirmed what we all know–Congress has very few limits on how much it decides to tax the citizens. The way that is controlled is that the entire House of Representatives (which must initiate all tax bills) is up for election every 2 years. If the citizens think taxes are too high, they can vote out the Representatives and put in some who will lower them. That is the process that Justice Roberts supports.

      • ImmorTEAl sTEAlth says:

        A Goliath killing comment David. But "That is the process that Justice Roberts supports"… is not the end, he olympicly ignored AN OVERNITGHT
        AH!, THEY "JUST" ERASE MY COMMENTS FROM ANY SITE, even here, the ugly few trillions more beast machinnery, from ted palpatine kennedy anti-vietnam war mupets of the jura$$ICK congress…
        they erased a comment I wrote this very morning on other site, they even block me from send posts to townhall.com from my townhall.com e-mail article selections they send me to me to blog on… for 6 month+ ago… they didn't survived 2010 really…

    9. larry says:

      I am outside of the US, but an American Citizen. It has been painful to watch the fall of America. This November, should obama not be thrown out of office, and the illegal, unconstitutional 'laws' he has decreed be cancelled, then the great free country of America will soon become just another third world nation.

    10. Conrad says:

      XVI Amendment =The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

      This is about income not health.

    11. Conrad says:

      Is there any example in life where you are taxed on something you do not own or acquire?

    12. maurice says:

      Yes, congress has the power to tax- however the jurisdiction of that power is very limited over citizens living
      within the 50 states. Very few are within that jurisdiction- probably no one you know or ever met. read – Income Tax : Shattering the myths – Dave Champion

    13. John Stewart says:

      Change the tax code, disolve the IRS and the problem will rear its ugly head somewhere else. The problem is politicians and lawyers, they have no morals, ethics, or concern for anyone but themselves.

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