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S.J. Res. 40, Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Sixteenth Amendment), June 28, 1909

After the Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not have the power to levy an income tax, Representative Benton McMillin of Tennessee and other income-tax proponents worked for a constitutional amendment to authorize federal taxation of income. Congress approved such a resolution in 1909. It became the Sixteenth Amendment when ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1913.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Excerpt:
“ARTICLE XVI. 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.”

S.J. Res. 40, Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Sixteenth Amendment), June 28, 1909 S.J. Res. 40, Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Sixteenth Amendment), June 28, 1909

The Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax

In 1872 Congress repealed a national income tax that helped finance the Civil War, but the question of whether to tax income reemerged after an 1893 financial panic heightened the need for federal revenue. Representative Benton McMillin of Tennessee introduced an income-tax amendment to a tariff bill in 1894. It passed Congress, but the new income-tax law was short-lived. In 1895 the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Congress finally secured its power to tax income in 1913 after it approved, and the states ratified the Sixteenth Amendment.

Is it not time that great estates which are protected by our Army, which are defended by our Navy, which are benefited by the various operations of Government, should contribute in some greater degree to carry on that Government?

Representative Benton McMillin of Tennessee, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, January 29, 1894