Critics worry that extra taxes will pose a burden to the people in the form of many collections agents. The collector of imposts will be the only national agent, and the national government will use as much as it can, the local tax collection agent. Additionally, there should be no fear that the amount of taxes will increase, as the expenditures are the same, just distributed differently.

Some critics express concern over clauses in the U.S. Constitution that imply limitless powers to the federal government. For example, the power of the federal government to lay taxes must be accompanied by a power to pass all laws necessary and proper to execute that power. This does not give any extra powers to the federal government, only attributes to them the necessary powers to tax the people. The ultimate judge of what is necessary and proper is the federal government in the first instance and its constituents, the people, in the last. The people will not allow the federal government to overstep its bounds.

Additionally, the phrase "supreme law of the land" is nothing more than stating that the federal laws will be supreme to all other. Furthermore, it only allows laws to be supreme that have been made within the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution. Therefore a law that attempts to stop a state government for collecting taxes, does not go against the federal governments authority to tax, but it is not supreme because it is not allowed for by the U.S. Constitution.

Some critics object to federal taxation on the grounds that the House of Representatives is not large enough to represent all the different classes of citizens, and therefore, taxation will be class-biased. The idea of a representative body comprised of delegates from each occupation is entirely visionary and unrealistic, and not likely to occur. The mechanics and manufacturers are more likely to select a merchant than one of their own kind because despite their confidence in their own abilities, they know that the merchant class will better serve their interests.

If the votes of the people are free, they will never vote in such a way that each of their occupations and class is represented. The government will be composed of merchants, learned professions and land holders -- each reflecting the interests of the group it represents, and the learned professions serving as arbiter. The nature of re-election insures that the representative acts in a way to represent his constituents, regardless of their class or occupation.

The delegates who understand the principles of taxation the best will design the most productive systems of taxation. Let each citizen be the judge of who he thinks the most qualified person with an understanding of taxation is.


The most heralded quote from the American Revolution was "no taxation without representation." By the time the people of the country began the business of devising a plan for their own self-government, this quote had been altered to imply no taxation by a strong central government, period. Unfortunately, the inability of the central government to levy taxes under the Articles of Confederation was one of the biggest weaknesses, and was changed by the new plan of government.

American colonists received an awful shock in the aftermath of the French and Indian War when the King and Parliament not only began to regulate their affairs more closely than ever, but also raised taxes on the colonists to assist in paying the war debts. Colonists reacted violently against the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts and others because as British citizens they believed that taxes could only be levied on them through a body that included their representation.

Parliament had the power of the purse over British citizens living in England, but no representative of the colonies sat in Parliament. Colonists were being taxed without their authority and this was a terrible abuse of their rights in a representative government.

It is no surprise then, that in the Articles of Confederation, the Confederation Congress is restricted from levying taxes of any kind. The people felt they could only be fairly taxed by a representative government close to home, namely in their state government. Their refusal to empower the central government with the authority to raise its own revenue nearly crippled the war effort and destroyed the viability of the confederacy.

During the American Revolution, soldiers became nearly mutinous on at least two occasions, during the Newburgh Conspiracy and when they forced Congress to flee from Philadelphia to Princeton. Both incidents rested on soldiers' frustrations with not being paid. And, in both cases, the congress was unable to do anything about it. Subject to the contributions of individual states for its source of revenue, Congress had no control over its budget and could not effectively plan for its expenses.

The financial situation worsened after the war ended and individual states saw little need to continue to supply the Confederation Congress with additional revenue. But, without the power to tax the Congress was unable to carry out its other duties that included repayment of debts and continued support of the common defense. These weaknesses threatened not only the physical security of the nation, but the financial security and public credit of the nation as well.

The U.S. Constitution marks a return to the idea expressed prior to the Revolution about taxation and representation. Instead of prohibiting a strong central government from levying taxes, the Constitution places the power of taxation strongly in the hands of the branch of the central government that is closest to the people. The justification is that as representatives of the people, Congress will naturally guard against unfair taxation. Furthermore by allowing both the state and the federal government to levy taxes, each retains its own authority to establish a budget and determine spending based on its own needs.

Popular pages: The Federalist Papers (1787-1789)