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Tax Changes Prospective


There shall be no increase in the income tax before January 1 of the year following adoption of the increase without a two-thirds vote of both Houses, and there shall be no income tax for a stated term.

Tax Changes Prospective: Proposed Language

Congress shall have no power to pass any Bill using its power under the Sixteenth Amendment which is effective before the first day of the calendar year following its enactment without a two-thirds vote of both Houses and no such Bill shall ever be made subject to a stated term.


Our comments [Amendment 30.2 Commentary] with respect to retroactive tax bills are somewhat applicable to this proposed amendment. Since most people do their planning on a yearly basis, it is fair that they should be able to know in advance what the laws will be for a particular year, most especially tax laws that have such a significant influence on economic planning. It stands to reason that if Congress wants to change the income tax laws in a particular year, it should not make those laws effective until the first of the following year. Yet, Congress in enacting general revenue statutes, has almost without exception given such laws an effective date prior to the date of enactment. The Supreme Court has authorized this practice, holding that it does not violate due process if reasonable. U.S. v. Darusmont, 449 U.S. 292 (1981). Our lives and decisions should not be made to depend on whether judges think retroactive tax laws are reasonable. The Supreme Court has also held that treasury regulations may be retroactively applied unless doing so constitutes an abuse of discretion. Automobile Club of Michigan v. Commissioner, 353 U.S. 180, 184 (1957).

In addition, Congress should not be allowed to make income tax laws for a stated term. The reason is that business planners have no idea what will occur at the expiration of the term. This uncertainty means that they must either assume the risk of a favorable change at the end of the term or go to the sidelines and wait for an answer. It is risk enough that people make their economic decisions knowing that Congress can pass a law at any time that may prove their decisions to have been incorrect. To compound that risk with other risks, such as taxes for a stated term, will have nothing but a deleterious effect upon our economy and ameliorative effect on the ability of elected representatives to shirk their responsibility for political reasons.

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