Sunday, March 14, 2010
Taxes and Population
Provision seventeen of the United States Constitution is found in Article I.2.3: "Direct taxes (levied against the property of private individuals) shall be apportioned among the states according to population." This provision means that citizens have the Right to be taxed equally no matter where they live. The discussion on this provision was about whether population was the best measure to use to decide taxes. If population was chosen, should slaves be counted? The delegates to the Constitutional Convention determined that population was the most equitable measurement to determine taxes. There was a problem when discussing the slavery issue. The Southern states wanted to count slaves when determining their population for representation but not count them when determining their population for taxes. As a compromise, the delegates agreed that each slave would be weighted at three-fifths in determining population for both representation and taxation. This was merely a compromise deal and not intended as an insult to slaves. Representation and taxation would counter balance each other and made for a more honest and reliable census. States wanted the highest numbers of representatives as possible and therefore would count as many people as possible. At the same time, they wanted the lowest amount of taxes as possible and therefore would keep population numbers as low as possible. Parents could divide family into two groups and assign "taxes." Any item - jelly beans, cheerios, whatever - could be used as taxes. Each group could be assessed a certain number - maybe twenty - items. If a group has only two members, each member of that group would have to pay ten items, but in a group of five each member would pay only four items. This would not be equal taxation.