Congressional Power to Tax Income 1909

Congressional Power to Tax Income 1909

Congressional Power to Tax Income 1909
Congressional Power to Tax Income 1909

The 16th amendment, passed by Congress on July 2, 1909, and ratified on February 3, 1913, established Congress’s ability to levy a Federal income tax.

The income tax change, which has far-reaching social and economic implications, was enacted into law through a strange chain of events that culminated in a bungled political manoeuvre.

The first American income tax was enacted in 1861 in response to the financial demands of the Civil War. Congress first imposed a flat 3-percentage-point tax on all incomes above $800, but subsequently changed this premise to include a tiered tax. The income tax was repealed by Congress in 1872, but the notion remained.

Read more