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Historical Perspectives on the Federal Income Tax











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CRS-21

17. ARE NOT INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE TOO YOUNG TO VOTE OR WHO ARE RESIDENTS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNCONSTITUTIONALLY SUBJECTED TO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION?

The argument has been suggested that individuals who are not 18 years of age and individuals residing in the District of Columbia should not be subject to Federal taxes because they do not have voting representation in Congress. Individuals who are not 18 years of age cannot vote for members of Congress or the President, and residents of the District of Columbia cannot elect voting representatives to Congress, although they may vote in Presidential elections.

The concept of no taxation without representation was a factor in the creation of this country and was embodied in the Declaration of Independence, but it is not an express guarantee of the Constitution. Rather, the Constitution establishes a representative form of government with elected officials for all adults, except those residing in the District of Columbia. As such, the Constitution permits taxation of both residents of the District and individuals who are disenfranchised because of age. This principle was clearly expressed by the Supreme Court in its decision in Loughborough v. Blake86 in which Chief Justice Marshall stated;

The difference between requiring a continent, with immense population, to submit to be taxed by a government having no common interest with it, separated from it by a vast ocean, restrained by no principle of apportionment, and associated with it by no common feelings; and permitting the representatives of the American people, under the restrictions of our Constitution, to tax a part of society, which is either in a state of infancy advancing to manhood, looking forward to complete equality as soon as that state of manhood shall be attained, as is the case with the territories; or which has voluntarily relinquished the right of representation, and has adopted the whole body of Congress for its legitimate government, as is the case with the district, is too obvious not to present itself to the minds of all.87



 


86 18 U.S. 317 (1820).

87 Id. at 324 to 325.


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