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State Sovereignty – Part 2 – 16th Amendment

April 5, 2009
Constitution Party

Amendment 16 – Status of Income Tax Clarified. Ratified 2/3/1913

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.

— Constitution of the United States of America

He, who has the money, has the power

Remember, there is nothing that the government can give you that they haven’t already taken from you.

As long as states continue to bow before the altar of “Federal Funding,” they will never be sovereign.  Just take a look at the “Stimulus Package” if you want proof.  Show me a single state that isn’t groveling before the federal government for a portion of those dollars that are coming from our back pockets.

In a recent article on the GOPUSA website entitled, “GOP Governors Now Faced with Hot Potato,” the author, Bobby Eberle, asks the following questions:

“So what happens next? What happens if you are a GOP governor? You stand to receive billions from the bill, yet you philosophically oppose the entire plan. If you don’t believe in big government solutions, do you still accept big government funds? That is the question.”

The answer to all of those questions is that they have caved in to the federal government and justifiably so.  They are vying for a portion of the money that the federal government has taken or borrowed.

It’s absolutely amazing how many people think this money is just coming out of thin air.  (Well, there is an argument that this really is the case, but we’ll have to save that for another discussion.)   It’s coming on the backs of our children and our children’s children; a debt that they can never repay.  One of the major discussions that is absent from the bill is how this debt will be repaid.  It’s unconscionable that a communist country (a sworn enemy to freedom and liberty) owns a major portion of our debt, and we are about to increase that by over a TRILLION DOLLARS.  Do you hear me??????????

Always done that way?

Americans, by-and-large, have no clue that up until 1913, the federal government was not funded by, nor did it function on our income taxes. Most Americans believe that our federal government has always been funded through the federal income tax system.  This kind of thinking is what fosters the “This is the way it’s always been done” syndrome – “we just have to live with it and try to make it better.”
Nothing can be further from the truth.  First, it has not “always been done that way.”  Second, the only way to make it better is to get rid of it.  The federal government does not need an income tax to function CONSTITUTIONALLY.  (This will be discussed in the section below, “revenue prior to the 16th Amendment.”)  They only need it to continue functioning unconstitutionally.

 Taxation clauses of the Constitution

There are three clauses in the United States Constitution that you need to be aware of:

Article 1, Section 2, First Clause:

“Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union…”

Article 1, Section 8, First Clause:

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, 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;”

Article 1, Section 9, Fourth Clause:

No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

Let me be clear, according to the above references from the Constitution, Congress already had the authorization to “lay and collect taxes.”  Further, according to Article 1, Section 9, Congress could lay a “capitation, or other direct tax,” it just had to be in proportion to a census or enumeration.  In other words, Congress had the authorization to directly tax the people, but it had to be TAXATION WITH REPRESENTATION.

To fully understand these two clauses, there are terms you need to understand:

• Duties / Tariffs • Direct Tax • Imposts • Census • Excises • Enumeration
• Capitation Tax • Proportion (Apportionment)

Admittedly, I felt pretty bad that I didn’t understand these terms initially and how they applied; especially, knowing how they impact such a huge portion of my life.  But after several weeks of studying this particular topic, I realized that I shouldn’t feel so bad.  There have been several Supreme Court cases that have tried to determine the specifics of these terms, especially what a direct tax is and even they have changed their opinions several times.

Protection from excessive taxation

Make no mistake about it; prior to the 16th Amendment, Congress was already trying to go after other means of revenue, to include income and other sources.

However, the Supreme Court for the most part was protecting the citizens from this onslaught of taxation.  Several cases could be cited, but the following are listed as examples:

  • Hylton v. U.S (1796)
  • Pollack v. Farmers Loan and Trust Company (1895)
  • Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad (1915)
  • Stanton v. Baltic Mining Company (1916)
  • Eisner v. Macomber (1920).

Notice that the first two are pre-16th Amendment cases and the last three are post-16th Amendment cases.

The 16th Amendment finally stripped the Supreme Court of its ability to protect the American citizen against excessive taxation.

Revenue Prior to the 16th Amendment

Again, for those of you who didn’t realize it, our federal government was not always funded by taxing our income.  Prior to the 16th Amendment, the primary source of revenue for the federal government was “duties, imposts and excises.”  Tariffs (duties) from doing business with foreign countries were probably the number one biggest sources of revenue.

According to the Platform of the Constitution Party, the plank on “Tariffs and Trade” says:

“We support a tariff based revenue system, as did the Founding Fathers, which was the policy of these United States during most of the nation’s history.”

Certainly, “duty, impost, and excise” taxes were not always enough to adequately fund the Constitutional function of the federal government and additional taxation was required.  However, these taxes were to be apportioned to the states.  According to the Platform of the Constitution Party, the plank on “Taxes”:

“To the degree that tariffs on foreign products, and excises, are insufficient to cover the legitimate Constitutional costs of the federal government, we will offer an apportioned “state-rate tax” in which the responsibility for covering the cost of unmet obligations will be divided among the several states in accordance with their proportion of the total population of these United States, excluding the District of Columbia. Thus, if a state contains 10 percent of the nation’s citizens, it will be responsible for assuming payment of 10 percent of the annual deficit.”

The federal government can constitutionally raise revenue and function without the 16th Amendment.

It was recognized, however, that if the federal government was to be able to maintain this new, unlimited, source of revenue that could now be obtained, they had to eliminate state’s interest in keeping the money within the state.

Think about it.  How long would it be before the states realized how much funding they were loosing and demand a repeal of the 16th Amendment?

Therefore, they knew they had to eliminate the state voice and came up with the 17th Amendment.  The 17th Amendment ensures the safety of this unlimited source of revenue for the government, completely immune from the states, since there is no longer a state voice within the federal government.

Remember, prior to the 16th Amendment taxation had to be apportioned among the several states, which meant that the states were responsible for the short fall and it was up to the two representatives from each of the states to determine that.

The 17th Amendment will be discussed more fully in Part 3.

Let’s talk about the specifics of the 16th Amendment itself

It wasn’t until I started my research for this message that I actually realized how atrocious the 16th Amendment really is.  As most of you know, in 1775, we went to war with Mother England, for one primary reason – TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.

After fully understanding the 16th Amendment, I discovered that our taxation system is even worse than what our founding father went to war over.  Yes, I’ve read it before many times, but it wasn’t until I took a closer look at it for the purpose of this message that I realized what it really said.  Here’s what I discovered.  The 16th Amendment gives congress carte blanche to lay and collect taxes:

  • Without regard to source
  • Without regard to apportionment (fairly apportioned among the states)
  • Without regard to census
  • Without regard to enumeration

As bad as the whole amendment is, the most important part of the amendment to understand is the phrase, “without apportionment.” Most people have no clue what this really means.  I know I didn’t.

Apportionment means – “The determination of the number of members of the U.S. House of Representatives according to the proportion of the population of each state to the total population of the U.S.”
Do you get it???  The 16th Amendment states, “Without Apportionment.”  In other words, “TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!”  The very reason our founding fathers WENT TO WAR with mother England.  The framers of our Constitution protected us from that evil practice and YET, there it is in our Constitution as an amendment.

Consequences of Unlimited funding

Quite frankly, there is only one way to eliminate unconstitutional programs and spending — cut off the source.  Otherwise, there is no incentive to stop.  Think about it.  If my dad keeps supplying the gas, why would I ever stop driving his car?  What’s my incentive?

One of the consequences of unlimited funding has been in maintaining a federal army, unconstitutionally, since the end of “World War II.”

I found it incredulous to discover how many people declared that it was Congress’ responsibility to fund the President’s War in Iraq – to further say that because the troops were not adequately funded they were being killed — when it is the opposite that is true.
Our founding fathers were absolutely brilliant when they conceived the principle of “cutting off the funds.”  According the Article I, Congress was given the responsibility:

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

There is no provision in the Constitution to “UN-Declare War.”  The provision according to the constitution is to cut off the funding.  When the funding has been cut off, it is then the responsibility of the President, the Commander in Chief, to end the war.  But, as you can see, as long as there is funding, there is no incentive to stop.  As demonstrated with the car, it will never be the other way around.

You can talk about abolishing the federal department of education, as well as other departments, all you want, but because of the seemingly unlimited supply capabilities of the Federal Income Tax System the reality is as long as there is money to fund them, they will never go away.

As long as states grovel before the altar of federal funding and continue to allow the federal government to lay an unconstitutional tax on the people, they will never be sovereign.

Founder’s Fears Fulfilled

Following the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787 and during the ratification period, there were a series of letters and articles written in support and others in written in opposition to the new constitution.  Those writing in support of the Constitution are known as the “Federalists” and those writing in opposition are known as the “Anti-Federalists.”

The Anti-Federalists were fearful of a central government becoming too powerful.  The following two excerpts demonstrate that fear.  After reading through them, you almost have to ask the question, “Were they prophets?”

“The Federal Farmer, Pamphlet 1 – November, 1787, (Author, thought to have been Richard Henry Lee)”

“Should the general government think it politic, as some administration (if not all) probably will, to look for a support in a system of influence, the government will take every occasion to multiply laws, and officers to execute them, considering these as so many necessary props for its own support. Should this system of policy be adopted, taxes more productive than the impost duties will, probably, be wanted to support the government, and to discharge foreign demands, without leaving anything for the domestic creditors. The internal sources of taxation then must be called into operation, and internal tax laws and federal assessors and collectors spread over this immense country.”

“Letters of Centinel, Number 1 – October 5, 1787, (Author, thought to have been Samuel Bryan)”

“… the absolute control over the commerce of the United States and all external objects of revenue, such as unlimited imposts upon imports, etc. — they are to be vested with every species of internal taxation; — whatever taxes, duties and excises that they may deem requisite for the general welfare, may be imposed on the citizens of these states, levied by the officers of Congress, distributed through every district in America; and the collection would be enforced by the standing army, however grievous or improper they may be. The Congress may construe every purpose for which the state legislatures now lay taxes, to be for the general welfare, and thereby seize upon every object of revenue.”

If the founding fathers had fears back then, they would be horrified to see the fulfillment of those of those fears.  Notice that these articles were written 222 years ago and it’s like reading something out of our newspapers today.

Repeal the 16th Amendment

If we are ever going to “Take back our (your) state” and “Take back America,” the 16th Amendment will have to be repealed.  As has been demonstrated, the federal government has the power to tax the people without regard to source or apportionment.  Unlimited taxation power has brought this nation’s economy to its knees; has allowed a federal army to exist unconstitutionally and traipse around the world in conquest since WWII.

However, as I will demonstrate in Part 3, until the 17th Amendment is repealed, there will be no support or incentive from our elected officials to propose repealing the 16th Amendment.

For more information on the history of U.S. Taxation, I found the following two website to be of tremendous benefit:

            Tax History Project –

            The Tax Museum –

By the way, the Constitution Party was originally founded by Howard Phillips as the U.S. Taxpayers Party.  It was (and still is) a party dedicated to the repeal of the 16th Amendment.  However, realizing there were other important constitutional issues to deal with as well, in the 2000 National Convention, they changed their name to the Constitution party.

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