Friday, April 16, 2010


By Esteban Camacho

Here is the month of the year when taxes are finally due, much to my dismay. While I do not pay much in taxes every year (being a college student), I do sympathize for those who do. In my world of policy, it is not I who matters, but the whole of society. As such, I will make my policy decisions and philosophical choices based on what is better for the country as a whole; i suppose you may call me an ideological person of sorts. I mention this because my topic for this writing will be about the all-famous income tax, the 16th amendment, and it’s constitutionality - or lack thereof. Again, I do not pay much in taxes; however, I cannot possibly support the tax structure of this country. The ideas of the “progressive tax” really happen to bother my ideology of liberty, and the basis that the more one has accomplished, the more punished one should be. Interestingly enough, there are those who happen to fully support the ideas of progressive taxation. To these, I dedicate this paper.

There are widespread misconceptions about the progressive tax, not to mention much unfair judgement on those who the progressive tax affects. During my daily treks on the popular site Facebook, I encountered a post with a rather interesting link about taxes. Apparently, there are some of the ultra-rich leftists in America who wish to lobby Congress to raise taxes on the top 5% of Americans. The main reason this came to be rather bothersome to me is the representation, in this particular scenario, of the typical American liberal policy. There is absolutely nothing stopping these very people to write out a check and donate it to the government treasury. These ultra-rich who so willingly want to pay higher taxes could do so out of the kindness of their hearts, however, they wish to impose and FORCE the same manner of thinking on every other wealthy American citizen by means of legislation. This kind of scenario is what grows government power and what led this nation to the ratification of the 16th amendment.

In the original Constitution, pre-16th amendment, Congress was very limited in the manners in which it could directly tax. Article 1 states:

“Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned 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 taxes, three fifths of all other persons.”

This is what is called the apportionment clause of the Constitution. This basically stated that taxes could not be direct and had to be imposed according to the population of each area or the population of the country, just like our representatives are elected. Several Supreme Court decisions have ruled that the apportionment clause denies Congress the power to tax each head, or each person, respectively. When the first income tax came around in the mid 1800’s, the court decided in the Springer case that the income tax was indeed a direct tax and was unconstitutional; of course, this meant that Congress was all of a sudden left without money to spend. This caused uncontrollable panic in Congress, so there had to be some kind of solution. Because the highest court in the land decided that the income tax was unconstitutional, Congress sought the only way to reverse the ruling: to amend the Constitution itself.

If one takes the time to read the Constitution, it is noticeable that the document is meant to protect us, the people, from the government. The common language and tone of the 1787 document is protective, and will usually include phrases and clauses that limit government power. In writing the 16th amendment, Congress sought to end the fight of the income tax, and finally have a concrete and secure way to capture money from the individual citizen. Because of this, the language in the 16th amendment is very clear, not vague like the rest of the Constitution,; and this amendment handed much power to the national government:

” Congress shall have the 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.”

The language of this amendment quickly changes the tone of our Constitution.

“Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes…” - Clause number one, it got rid of any speculation that income taxes were unconstitutional.

“…from whatever source derived…” - Congress can tax any kind of income, there is no barring of power in this regard.

“…without apportionment among the several States…” - This runs in direct response to Article 1, which specifically mentions that taxes must be apportioned.

“….without regard to any census or enumeration…” - Once again, we see a huge grant of power. This can be phrased “without regard to the thoughts of the original Constitution.”

This amendment grants much power to our national government, and as I explained in my earlier version of the journal, it shifted accountability from the state government to the federal government. The main issue here is the ideas that run directly opposite to what our Constitution was meant to accomplish. The founders placed the apportionment clause in the Constitution in order to protect the citizenry, and the 16th amendment refuses to honor that commitment.

In modern times, the usual leftist will see the income tax as an opportunity to favor the less financially successful with a showering of tax dollars. While I am not wealthy (in financial respects), I can almost feel the huge 36% tax burden on the top bracket of Americans. It must be reminded that at first, the income tax only applied to a certain group of people (renters, bond owners) and the tax rate hovered around 2 percent. Obviously, this number has increased many times, seeing periods in history when the richest Americans were hit with a hefty 69% tax on income. In modern times, the income tax tops out at a rate of 36% after the Bush tax cuts of the early 2000’s. Even so, the one’s who are burdened with this 36%, which is the top 5% or so of the population, take care of approximately 30-40% of what the federal government takes in as revenue. I estimate this number because it changes every few years, but the rate has been in the 30 percentiles in the last decade or so.

Most importantly are not the numbers, but the manner in which the federal government is able to tax. As I have stated before, the income tax is out of the spirit of the Constitution, and unlike Joe Biden, I do not find it in any way “patriotic” to pay into a system that has burdened the American taxpayer with enormous debt. Think of it this way (facts):

The National Debt: $12,792,967,119,405.50 - This is the estimate from the federal treasury office. They release this information every day at 11:30am.

Debt per citizen: $41,670.01 - This number is based off population estimates by the census bureau.

Debt per taxpayer: $111,224 approximately. - Yes, there is a difference. Less than half of the United States population actually pays taxes on income, most people get the money refunded.

Interest per citizen: $5,800 approximately. - Every dollar borrowed by the federal government must be paid back - with interest.

There is always talk about how the children of the current generation will be stuck with the debt, and that talk is no fallacy, it is indeed a fact. As I mentioned in the first part of this writing, there are those ultra-rich liberals (the ultra rich usually are) that wish to impose higher taxes on the top 5%, respectively. Of course, these people can have the liberty to donate to the federal government, but instead, they choose to force others into their own belief. This is the unpatriotic part of paying taxes. Obviously, one has no standing if taking a tax case to court which has to do with an individual not supporting the allocation of his/her tax dollars; however, the people can have a significant say in how the federal government controls policy by imposing a new system of taxation.

A new system of taxation is really what I have come to support. A system that does not punish the more successful; a system that makes the government less powerful, not more. A system with which the people can keep a very close check on government and majority power. The current income tax code is so long and complex, I am willing to bet my entire life’s salary that not one single person in this entire country can understand how it works. This opens the doors for a black-market style tax system in which those who know the rules reap the benefits.

The “new” system which I speak of is the Fair Tax. I know it is a topic of much controversy among the population, but it is one certainly worth considering. While I can continue this entry with an explanation of the proposed Fair Tax law, I feel like I will give it injustice, thus, please refer to the Fair Tax website (, where much research is shown. Although I will not take the time to explain the full concept, here are the basic ideas

The Fair Tax is basically a tax on consumption: a sales tax, if you will. The proposed rate on this sales tax is 23% on all new goods and services, excluding necessities, which are defined on the website mentioned above. This does sound like a rather hefty amount, yes, but it is actually less than what the taxpayers pay at the moment. The casual tax rate will be hovering around 20% for a middle class citizen. This is only federal income tax. To this number we can add several taxes, some of which will apply to the majority of the citizenry. Here is a brief list:

Accounts Receivable Tax

Building Permit Tax

Capital Gains Tax

CDL License Tax

Cigarette Tax

Corporate Income Tax

Inventory Tax I

RS Interest Charges (a tax on a tax)

IRS Penalties (a tax on a tax)

Liquor Tax

Local Income Tax

Luxury Taxes

Marriage License Tax

Medicare Tax

Court Fines (indirect taxes)

Dog License Tax

Federal Income Tax

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

Fishing License Tax

Food License Tax

Fuel Permit Tax

Gasoline Tax

Hunting License Tax

Inheritance Tax

Property Tax

Real Estate Tax

Recreational Vehicle Tax

Road Toll Booth Taxes

Telephone Usage Charge Tax

Tunnel Taxes

Trailer Registration

Tax Utility Taxes

Vehicle License Registration Tax

Vehicle Sales Tax

Watercraft Registration Tax

Well Permit Tax

Workers’ Compensation Tax

Road Usage Taxes (truckers)

Sales Taxes

School Tax

Septic Permit Tax

Service Charge Taxes

Social Security Tax

State Income Tax

State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)

Telephone Federal Excise Tax

Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes

Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax

Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax

Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax

Telephone State and Local Tax

That is a brief list of the majority of taxes in the United States that apply to large portion of the citizenry. The Fair Tax plans to be rid of absolutely all other taxes. The only tax the population would have to pay would be the sales tax, which is not applicable to necessities. If you ask me, and perhaps another few million Americans, this sounds like a tax cut.

In addition to the tax cut, the most important feature of this tax would be the new-found control that the people would have over the federal government. Because the federal government would depend on people purchasing in order to maintain its main revenue stream, the people of the United States could have a direct impact on policy, finally having much power over the federal government. This is a suggestion to the many of you, the Fair Tax website provides invaluable information on the process. The main thing to do now is to gain support from our local representatives and senators. As Thomas Jefferson said:

“When the people fear government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Esteban G. Camacho was born in 1989 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. There he lived in a lower class family with his single mother for 11 years before moving to the contiguous states. Esteban became involved with politics when he reached his senior year of high school. When he got to college, he immediately pursued further education in the fields of government and economics. A staunch conservative and an advocate of the free market economies of the world, Esteban spends his time researching political backgrounds, economic titles such as Wealth of Nations, and strengthening his conservative base. Esteban believes in personal responsibility, individual liberty, equal opportunity, and in the American dream. Among his favorite quotes is: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” Esteban resides in Las Cruces, New Mexico and is currently pursuing a degree in Political Science

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Higher taxes reduce incentives of people to more and earn more. Why work more hours or invest savings into new ventures when the return is taken away by the unproductive---i.e. government. Such lower production means fewer new jobs will be created. For those keeping score, then the federal or state governments receive lower revenues.

Read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged where the creators quit society and there are no longer talented entrepreneurs to make things work. What's left are the moochers and looters.