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In the United States taxes for the support of the federal government are mainly indirect taxes, such as customs and excise. The Constitution gives Congress “power to collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States,” subject to restrictions, no capitation or other direct tax to be laid unless in proportion to the census. The first direct tax ($2,000,000) was levied upon the sixteen [19] States, pro rata, in 1798, and there have been occasional repetitions since, noticeably in 1861, when a tax of $20,000,000 was levied, which has since been refunded. According to rulings of the Supreme Court, Congress has no power to levy duties on exports, and the restriction upon direct taxation does not apply to an income tax. The systems and rates of State, county, and municipal taxation are numerous and constantly changing, but the taxes are direct, and are levied upon the assessed value of real estate and personal property. According to the single tax (q. v.) theory, advocated by Henry George (q. v.) and others, taxation should be solely on land value, exclusive of improvements. The development of the present system of federal taxation is shown below:

Duties laid upon spirits distilled within the United States from foreign and home material, March 3, 1791, followed by an act further regulating these duties and imposing a tax on stills......May 8, 1792

Execution of the above laws leads to the whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania......1794

Duties imposed on licenses for selling wines and foreign distilled spirituous liqors by retail; 8 cents per lb. on all snuff manufactured for sale within the United States; 2 cents per lb. on sugar refined within the United States; and specific duties as follows: On every coach, $10 yearly; chariot, $8; phaeton, $6; wagons used in agriculture or transportation of goods, exempt by act......June 5, 1794

Duties laid on property sold at auction......June 9, 1794

Taxes on snuff repealed and duty laid on snuff-mills......March 3, 1795

Duties on carriages increased by act......May 28, 1796

Duties laid on stamped vellum, parchment, and paper by act......July 6, 1797

Direct tax of $2,000,000 laid, proportioned among the States......July 14, 1798

Act to establish a general stamp-office at seat of government......April 23, 1800

Duty on snuff-mills repealed......April 24, 1800

Repeal of act taxing stills and domestic distilled spirits, refined sugar, licenses to retailers, sales at auction, carriages, stamped vellum, parchment, and paper after June 30......April 6, 1802

Act passed imposing duties of 1 per cent. on sales at auction of merchandise, and 25 per cent. on ships and vessels, on licenses to distillers of spirituous liquors; and on sugar refined within the United States......July 24, 1813

Act passed imposing duties on licenses to retailers of wines, spirituous liquors, and foreign merchandise, and on notes of banks, etc., bonds and obligations discounted by banks, and on certain bills of exchange......Aug. 2, 1813

Direct tax of $3,000,000 imposed on States by counties......Aug. 2, 1813

Duties laid on carriages and harness, except those exclusively employed in husbandry......Dec. 15, 1814

Fifty per cent. added upon licenses to retailers of wines, etc., and 100 per cent. on sales by auction......Dec. 23, 1814

Direct tax of $6,000,000 laid upon the United States annually......Jan. 9, 1815

Internal-revenue tax of $1 per ton imposed on pig-iron; 1 cent per lb. on nails; also tax on candles, paper, hats, umbrellas, playing-cards, boots, tobacco, leather, etc., and an annual duty on household furniture, and gold and silver watches, by act......Jan. 18, 1815

Internal-revenue tax on gold and silver and plated ware, jewelry, and paste-work manufactured within the United States......Feb. 27, 1815

Direct tax of $19,998.40 laid on the District of Columbia annually, by act......Feb. 27, 1815

Acts of Jan. 18 and Feb. 27, 1815, repealed......Feb. 22, 1816

Act of Jan. 9, 1815, and Feb. 27 repealed, and direct tax of $3,000,000 laid on the States, and direct tax of $9,999.20 laid on the District of Columbia......March 5, 1816

Duties on household furniture and watches kept for use removed by act......April 9, 1816

Acts of July 24, 1813, and Aug. 2, Dec. 15 and 23, 1814, repealed......Dec. 23, 1817

Act passed allowing States to tax public lands of the United States after they are sold by the United States......Jan. 26, 1847

Direct tax of $20,000,000 laid annually, and apportioned to the States by act of [20] Congress (one tax to be levied previous to April 1, 1865)......Aug. 5, 1861

Act passed to provide internal revenue to support the government and to pay interest on the public debt, imposing taxes on spirits, ale, beer, and porter, licenses, manufactured articles and products, auction sales, yachts, billiard-tables, slaughtered cattle, sheep, and hogs, railroads, steamboats, ferry-boats, railroad bonds, banks, insurance companies, etc., salaries of officers in service of the United States, advertisements, incomes, legacies, business papers of all kinds, like bank-checks, conveyances, mortgages, etc......July 1, 1862

Act to increase internal revenue passed......March 7, 1864

Act of Aug. 5, 1861, repealed......June 30, 1864

Act passed to reduce internal taxation......July 13, 1866

Internal-revenue taxes reduced by acts of July 14, 1870, and June 6......1872

All special taxes imposed by law accruing after April 30, 1873, including taxes on stills, to be paid by stamps denoting the amount of tax, by act......Dec. 24, 1872

Internal-revenue tax on tobacco, snuff, and cigars increased, and former tax of 70 cents per gallon on distilled spirits raised to 90 cents, by act......March 3, 1875

Internal-revenue tax on tobacco reduced by act......March 1, 1879

Henry George's Progress and poverty, advocating the “Single-tax” theory, published......1879

Act passed reducing internal-revenue taxes, and repealing tax on banks, checks, etc., matches, and medicinal preparations......March 3, 1883

Special tax laid on manufacturers and dealers in oleomargarine, and a stamp tax of 2 cents per lb. laid on the manufactured article......Aug. 2, 1886

Special internal-revenue tax on dealers in tobacco repealed, and tax on tobacco and snuff reduced by act......Oct. 1, 1890

Act passed to refund to the several States and Territories the amount of direct tax paid under act of Aug. 5, 1861......March 2, 1891

Income tax appended to the Wilson tariff bill and passed with it, becoming a law......Aug. 27, 1894

Declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court......May 20, 1895

Congress passes a war-revenue act, imposing taxes on a large number of articles, in consequence of the declaration of war against Spain, which was approved by the President......June 13, 1898

Congress passes an act relieving many articles from the war-revenue tax, to take effect......July 1, 1901

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