Was the 1895 Pollock Case Decided Consistently with Existing Tax Principles?

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Abstract

The foundation of the modern tax system in the United States is based on the 16th Amendment passed in 1909. The amendment was Congress’s response to the 1895 Supreme Court decision in Pollock, which held that an income tax levied on the U.S. population on “dividends, royalties, and rents” was unconstitutional. Pollock is a seminal case in the history of taxation and tax law in the United States. Theoretically, the key question is whether a tax on property is the same as a tax on “dividends, royalties, and rents” arising from that property. Understanding the reasoning of this case illuminates the history of taxation and key concepts underlying our tax system. It also has implications for constitutional interpretation. Pollock and the definition of a direct and indirect tax on differing kinds of property have recently been debated in the ABA Tax Times by Professors Calvin H. Johnson and Erik M. Jenson in the context of considering the constitutionality of a wealth tax.

(c) Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV
Translated title of the contributionWerd de Pollock-zaak uit 1895 in overeenstemming met de bestaande belastingprincipes beslist?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalABA Tax Times
Volume40
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2021

Keywords

  • tax
  • constitutional law
  • law
  • United States
  • Supreme Court
  • legal
  • analysis
  • constitution
  • US Constitution
  • taxation
  • dividends
  • direct tax
  • indirect tax
  • direct
  • indirect

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