A sigh of relief

The U.S. Supreme Court decided its big tax case today. The IRS won — or Congress, really, since the Court upheld part of the tax code against a constitutional challenge. And the government’s victory means that no serious damage was done to the nation’s tax system.

Justice Budweiser Kavanaugh wrote the main opinion, which got five votes. It decided the dispute on the narrowest possible grounds, which is precisely what the government asked the justices to do. As a consequence, the ruling may not be all that important in the future. Those of us who were wishing the Court hadn’t taken the case are relieved.

A few of the other justices had their law clerks earn their salaries by drafting fascinating law review articles disguised as separate opinions. But only two members of the Court thought the taxpayers should win.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the majority opinion was its reliance on the history of the tax laws. The Court noted approvingly that the law in question was a lot like other business tax provisions added to the Internal Revenue Code over the decades. I don’t know about that logic. If Congress oversteps its authority enough times in the same way, that makes it okay?

Anyway, given how much mischief could have been caused, it was a decent outcome, and above all, the right result. If only the folks on Capitol Hill would do a similarly adequate job on their end of things, the system would be muddling along, doing its job, instead of drowning in complexity and unfairness.


  1. Thanks for your perspective on this ruling. I understand it much better now.

  2. The federal income tax did not come into existence until 1917- a few years after they gave control of our money to the not "federal reserve" in 1913. Since then they have destroyed the dollar and the country. And nobody is going to do a thing about it, cause .gov is addicted to money for nothing. Oh and the chicks are free...

    1. Yeah, just consider how terrible this country has been since 1917. It brings a tear to the eye. Sorry you have to put up with the freedom, vast wealth, and vibrant culture we have here.

    2. Just a quick review of those glorious decades. WWI in which Americans were 100% against getting involved but Wilson did it anyway. WWII where the same banking class bankrolled the Nazis and the Soviets. Korean war, Vietnam. Taking the dollar off the gold standard. Oil crisis. Inflation causing labor costs to rise dramatically, so industry moved to cheaper markets. 9/11 making everyone a terrorist suspect. Housing affordability being out of reach for most of our kids. Non-stop homelessness and poverty increasing by the hour. Did I miss anything?

    3. How terrible. It's incredible that nothing good happened during those years. Let us know where you plan to move to when you leave this god-forsaken hellhole once and for all.


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