Fiscal problems, as might be expected, received no little attention in the Constitutional Convention. The measures in the Constitution to safeguard the revenues of the Federal government are as follows:

Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

No capitation, or other direct tax, shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration hereinbefore directed to be taken.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing the inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments, as on other bills.

The importance of providing for uniform duties is clear. Had it been otherwise, disgraceful state and sectional filibustering and log rolling to secure local advantages would have been augmented by attempts to secure favorable duties for a particular section. Attempts to make the expression "uniform" apply to individuals rather than to localities, have been frustrated by the courts.

Direct and Indirect Taxes. - The apportionment of direct Federal taxes caused much difficulty in the Constitutional Convention, and the solution, from the standpoint of justice, leaves much to be desired. The previous apportionment with land values as a base had been a failure, because no adequate assessment had been made. The apportionment, according to numbers, is no less objectionable. With such an unequal distribution of taxpaying ability as exists among individuals in the United States, apportionment on this basis cannot but work injustice. The greatest virtue of the provision is that it seldom has been used. Even when it has been tried the success has not been all that could be desired. The revenues have come in slowly and in uncertain amounts. The first attempt to use it was in 1798, when $2,000,000 was apportioned among the states. It was still being paid five years later. Direct taxes were again used as an emergency measure at the time of the War of 1812, and also at the time of the Civil War. The states were tardy in paying their apportionment and the full amount never was received.

Meaning of Direct Taxes. - The meaning of direct taxes has not always been clear, and has led to considerable litigation. The court has usually decided the particular case before it, without giving a general interpretation. In its decisions it has not always been consistent, neither has it followed the distinctions which have usually been laid down. The income tax of the Civil War was held to be constitutional, while a similar tax in the early 'nineties was declared to be unconstitutional on the ground that it was a direct tax not levied in accordance with population. Soon after the adoption of the Constitution, an attempt was made to secure Federal revenues by levying a tax on carriages and on the sale of certain commodities. The carriage tax varied according to the kind of carriage and was contested on the ground that it was a direct tax. The ordinary distinctions between direct and indirect taxes would place such a tax in the former class, yet the court did not so rule. It held that a tax on expense was to be considered as an indirect tax. Carriages were consumable commodities, therefore an expense to the owner, and a tax would be an indirect one. The court was inclined to believe, it is said, that the direct taxes intended by the Constitution were a poll tax and a tax on land.

Restriction upon Export Duties. - The singular provision that prohibits the levy of taxes on exports was due to the efforts of the Southern coast states. Many leaders of the convention urged the necessity of granting Congress power to levy export duties. The delegates of these Southern states feared such a power might be used to discriminate against their agricultural exports. For fear of losing the support of the South, therefore, the concession was granted.

The taxes used by the Federal government, then, are principally of the indirect nature. They consist of two kinds - duties upon imported goods, and internal revenue duties. The protective feature of the import duties, however, has often surpassed the revenue aspects in importance. The use of the Federal income tax, which was authorized by the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, has been an important recent source of revenue. A tax upon the net income of corporations and a Federal inheritance tax have also been used to a small extent.