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The Taxing Power

Article I, Section: 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides, “the Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises.” Like its other powers (e.g., commerce power), Congress has utilized its taxing power to regulate certain sectors of society and even invoked this power in areas where other powers could not directly reach. Congress has also resorted to its taxing power when other forms of regulations
seemed constitutionally suspect.

A. Restraints on the Taxing Power

The taxing power as granted by the Constitution has to be exercised within certain limits.

1. Uniformity
Article I, § 8 mandates that “all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

a. This does not require that all individuals must be taxed uniformly; it only forbids discriminatory taxation
among the states.
b. The provision only affects indirect taxes, i.e., those that tax activities.

2. Apportionment
Article I, § 2 requires that “direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union.” Hence, direct taxes must be so apportioned that each state would raise an amount in proportion to its share of the national population.

3. Exports
Article I, § 9 also imposes a restriction on Congress’ taxing power. It provides, “No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.”

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