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Low-Tax Conservatives Quietly Mourn the 100th Anniversary of the 16th Amendment

The day in 1909 when Congress passed the sixteenth amendment to levy income taxes on states without any obligations to share the financial fruits with them is remembered as a dark moment at the Cato Institute.

“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,” the text of the sixteenth amendment reads.

Senior Fellow at Cato, Dan Mitchell, recalled the amendment unhappily today. In a conversation on tax reform proposals that could best suit the new economic landscape, Mitchell sighed that it was simply the “wrong ideological climate” for enacting Cato’s brand of fiscal conservatism.

This is not to say there aren’t a few ideas floating around Cato on April 15. Indeed, there’s the hallowed single-rate consumption tax which Mitchell supports, noting that the Cato version should not be confused with  a Euro-style VAT. He also endorsed limiting itemized deductions, which ironically Obama has signaled support for, and capping levies on corporate profits as well. But perhaps it’s just not the right day to be talking about taxes at all.


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