Given the recent Supreme Court decision expanding Congress’ powers to tax, would it be worthwhile to get behind an effort to amend the Constitution to clarify what a direct tax is? The mandate is hated enough that there might be enough states that would get on board. We need not reach issues like repealing the 16th Amendment, but just to clarify that any tax applied directly to individual citizens or property, and not relating to the sale or purchase of goods (excise taxes), importations or exportations (tariffs), and other than taxes explicitly authorized by the Constitution (taxes on incomes), are forbidden to Congress. Note that this would also eliminate the apportionment requirement, but has Congress ever even used that? What would be good proposed language? Here’s a quick off the cuff stab:
Section 1. The power of Congress to weigh and levy taxes shall under no circumstance be interpreted to allow persons or their property, to be directly taxed, regardless of whether such a tax is apportioned among the several States. Direct taxation shall include all taxes levied directly upon a person, regardless of purpose, and shall include, but is not limited to, capitations, taxes on real and personal property, and any tax levied against an individual directly, whether a capitation or not, which is intended to be punitive in nature, or not intended specifically for the purpose of raising revenue.
Section 2. The first section shall not be construed to interfere with Congress’ power to weigh and levy indirect taxes, such as excise taxes on the sale or manufacture of goods, tariffs on importation or exportation of goods, nor interfere with the power to tax incomes in the manner explicitly authorized by this Constitution.
Section 3. Nothing in the first section shall be construed to interfere with Congress’ power to set fines or other criminal penalties in the exercise of its enumerated powers under this Constitution.
Much like Progressives in the first part of the 20th century, I think in the 21st, those in the center-right coalition ought not fear amending the Constitution to deal with excesses of government. Feel free to debate this language, or add your own in the comments.