Phillip W. Magness

Historian – 19th century United States

Philanthropy and the Great Depression: what historical tax records tell us about charity

| May 19, 2017

As part of my ongoing investigation into early 20th century tax policy, I recently compiled a data series to track patterns in charitable giving during the 1920s and 1930s. As a result of tax code changes in 1917, the IRS began allowing federal income tax payers to deduct up to 15% of their taxable income […]

The Constitutional Havoc of the Income Tax Amendment

| July 17, 2014

Some days back I offered an interpretation of the motives and political economy behind the adoption of the 16th Amendment, noting at the time that it also caused extreme constitutional havoc by altering the relationship between the tariff system and the generation of federal tax revenue. While it is¬†certainly¬†possible to read this as a statement […]

The 16th Amendment: It actually wasn’t about wealth redistribution

| April 15, 2014

In commiseration of tax day, it’s worth remembering that the 16th Amendment wrought unparalleled constitutional havoc by unchaining the taxing mechanisms of the federal government from the unwittingly adopted but more or less effective “capitations clause” of Article I, Section 9. While a tendency exists to think of this action as a hallmark of the […]