Federalist Papers Summary No. 34

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 34

 
 

Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 34

The Federalist Papers Summary No 34:  Hamilton
January 5, 1788

This paper discusses why in the proposed Constitution the States and the Union have CO-EQUAL authority to tax objects except as to duties and imports.  Co-equal legislative bodies is not a new idea for in the Roman Republic the legislative authority resided in two different political bodies with opposite interests, the Patrician and the Plebeian, and the arrangement succeeded for ages.  One body had the authority to annul or repeal the acts of the other.  Our case is similar except the States or Union cannot annul or repeal the acts of the other.

The proposed Constitution has been designed to consider not only the present but the future.  In the future it is certain that the revenue required by the Union will be much greater than that needed by the individual States and therefore the taxing authority must consider this fact.  Wars in the future are almost a certainty and history shows us that wars are a countries greatest expense and therefore because the responsibility to defend the Union rests upon the national government it must have means for taxation much greater than that for the States. 

Considering posterity how does one partition the taxing authority?  If partitioning is accomplished by setting aside a fixed amount for the States, say 200,000 pounds per year for perpetuity, what would happen in the future if additional sums were required?  If States had the authority in exclusion of the federal Government to increase their revenue it would take resources from the Union whose needs were greater. 

If the Convention had partitioned the objects of revenue what particular fund could have been selected that would not provide too little or too much revenue in the future?  Any source for taxes left exclusively to the States would deprive the means to the Union for the powers vested in it.  Dividing between internal and external taxes would leave to the States two thirds of the total resources to defray expenses estimated at one tenth that of the Union.  Giving States exclusive power of taxing houses and land would still give the States one third of the revenue for one tenth of the expenses. 

The above considerations led to the CONCURRENT JURISDICTION in the article of taxation which was the only solution other than a entire subordination of the State taxing authority to that of the Union.  There is no separation of the objects of taxation between the States and the Union except as to duties and imports.

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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